I noticed that once in a while he had trouble grabbing scroll bars or navigating menus without clicking on an unintended button. His cursor was off by just a few pixels now and again.
I got to thinking about how often this happens to me. I spend several hours a day on a computer, and I still have trouble fiddling with buttons and menus once in a while.
I also got to thinking about how much of the screen is taken up by buttons and widgets that exist for the sole purpose of navigation. In some environments/applications, there are so many that they begin to clutter the screen. It seemed to me like an annoyance and a waste space.
The only time I make no mistakes in a menu is when I have it spatially memorized. My hand just puts the cursor right where it needs to be, straight from muscle memory.
So anyway, I tried thinking of some ways to eliminate as many common buttons and navigation interfaces, and make navigating GUIS a little less tedious. Here are a few things I thought of:
- More extensive use of right-click-style menus
I think right click menus are very intuitive, useful, and space saving. It's like asking, "I want to do something with this item. What are my options?" Or often even more simply, "What are my basic options?"
- No more scroll bars
The worst of all GUI controls is, in my opinion, the scroll bar. It is tedious and lends itself to near misses or overshoots, and it doesn't really look all that great either. Getting rid of the scroll bar isn't easy though. I thought of a user holding a specified mouse button and dragging across a window to pan it - much like the hand tool in photoshop. But this creates the potential for a user to get 'lost', especially if the window scrolls both horizontally and vertically. I'll have to think about this issue a little more.
- More extensive use of history
I haven't thought out the specifics for this option, but I think somehow using history as an organization criterion more commonly would make navigating GUIs much easier. If there were some space on the screen dedicated to recent options, a user wouldn't have to think about where a previously pressed button was. Maybe there could be another sort of right-click menu known a "recent command menu" that would have a list of commands organized by history, either in a top-down list or in a radial style, with the most commonly used items closest to the cursor.
That's all I feel like coming up with right now - I need to get some sleep soon [lol]
Everyone and their mother wants to make a better GUI, and I know there is no perfect answer, but it's definitely an interesting topic to muse on.
What do you guys think? Do you have any ideas on how you'd make common GUIs easier to use?