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The use of icons, earcons, and commands in the design of an online hierarchical menu

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3 Author(s)
W. Barfield ; Dept. of Ind. Eng., Washington Univ., Seattle, WA, USA ; C. Rosenberg ; G. Levasseur

Important goals for interface designers are to determine when it is beneficial to use iconic or command-based menus and how these traditional menu systems can be enhanced by the use of sound. To investigate this topic, 28 subjects were asked to maneuver through one of four different implementations of an interactive software package in order to execute a target command using either an iconic or command-based menu with or without the use of sound. The sounds descended in pitch as the depth of the menu increased, and were used as an auditory cue to code the location of a particular menu item. The results indicate that icons were more easily remembered than commands, but that commands were easier to locate under the highest level branch of the menu. The results also indicate a trend toward faster performance times with the use of command-based menus in comparison to iconic-based menus designed with the same structure. However, there was no difference in performance within iconic or command-based menus when sound was included in the user interface. Implications for user interface design are discussed

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 2 )