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.