International Journal of Human Computer Interaction, Volume 12, #2, 173-192.
HCIL-99-24, CS-TR-4066, UMIACS-TR-99-60, ISR-TR-99-71
To date, experimental comparisons of menu layouts have concentrated on variants of hierarchical structures of sequentially presented menus. Simultaneous menus - layouts that present multiple active menus on a screen at the same time – are an alternative arrangement that may be useful in many web design situations. This paper describes an experiment involving a between-subject comparison of simultaneous menu and their traditional sequential counterparts. Twenty experienced web users used either simultaneous or sequential menus in a standard web browser to answer questions based on US Census data. Our results suggest that appropriate use of simultaneous menus can lead to improved task performance speeds without harming subjective satisfaction measures. For novice users performing simple tasks the simplicity of sequential menus appears to be helpful, but experienced users performing complex tasks may benefit from simultaneous menus. Design improvements can amplify the benefits of simultaneous menu layouts.