Split menus: effectively using selection frequency to organize menus

TitleSplit menus: effectively using selection frequency to organize menus
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsSears A, Shneiderman B
JournalACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Pagination27 - 51
Date Published1994/03//
ISBN Number1073-0516
KeywordsHuman-computer interaction, menus, selection frequency, split menus, user interface

When some items in a menu are selected more frequently than others, as is often the case, designers or individual users may be able to speed performance and improve preference ratings by placing several high-frequency items at the top of the menu. Design guidelines for split menus were developed and applied. Split menus were implemented and tested in two in situ usability studies and a controlled experiment. In the usability studies performance times were reduced by 17 to 58% depending on the site and menus. In the controlled experiment split menus were significantly faster than alphabetic menus and yielded significantly higher subjective preferences. A possible resolution to the continuing debate among cognitive theorists about predicting menu selection times is offered. We conjecture and offer evidence that, at least when selecting items from pull-down menus, a logarithmic model applies to familiar (high-frequency) items, and a linear model to unfamiliar (low-frequency) items.