HCIL-86-11

An evaluation of jump-ahead techniques for frequent menu users
Laverson, A., Norman, K., Shneiderman, B.
1986
Behaviour and Information Technology, 6, 2 (1987) 97-108.
HCIL-86-11, CS-TR-1591, CAR-TR-168
Menu selection systems provide a means of selecting operations and retrieving information which requires little training and reduces the need for memorizing complex command sequences. However, a major disadvantage of many menu selection systems is that experienced users cannot traverse the menu tree significantly faster than novices. A common solution to this problem is to provide the menu selection system with a jump-ahead capability. The purpose of this research was to evaluate two jump-ahead methods (type-ahead and direct-access). In the type-ahead method the user anticipates a selection on each of several successive menus and enters as many selections at one time as desired. In the direct-access method, each menu frame is assigned a unique name which the user must enter to locate it. Thirty-two students were given training on an information retrieval system for college course information and were required to learn the two jump-ahead methods in a counter-balanced design. The direct-access method resulted in fewer traversals to learn the system, lower error rates, and reduced learning time. The subjective impressions, obtained from post-experiment questionnaires and oral comments indicated that the direct-access jump-ahead method was also preferred in a frequently used menu selection system.
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