The Psychology of Menu Selection


by Kent Norman
You can read this book online or order a copy from 
Menu selection is emerging as an important mode of human/computer interaction. This book, the first entirely devoted to this important form of human/computer interaction, provides detailed theoretical and empirical information of interest to software designers and human/computer interaction specialists and researchers. A new theoretical approach to menu selection is taken by developing a psychological theory of cognitive control by the user. A comprehensive review of empirical research on menu selection is presented in an organized fashion to aid in the design and evaluation of systems. Finally, information is given on how to protype and evaluate menu selection systems using both performance data and user ratings.

The volume has three parts. Part One is conceptual and theoretical in nature. The first chapter introduces the issues of design and flow of control at the human/computer interface. In the next three chapters taxonomic frameworks are proposed concerning the type of menu selection system being used, the nature of the task being performed by the user, and the cognitive elements involved in performing the task. In Part Two, experimental research on menu selection stemming from paradigms developed in experimental psychology and more recently human factors and cognitive psychology is discussed. The last part of the book deals with the topic of implementation and evaluation. Chapters discuss principles of when and how to use menus, cover topics of prototyping and evaluation, and attempt to plot some of the future directions of menu selection. Throughout, graphs and illustrations are included. Examples of good and bad designs are shown in a number of illustrations while empirical data from experiments are desplayed in graphs.

The reader will benefit from the discussion of the many issues, design possibilities and insights regarding menu slection. The empirical research at times supports and at other times refutes existing guidelines. The reader will want to know what the current state of knowledge is about how to design menuy selections and why the design choices are important.