Action icons in menus

Dan Meltzer parallelgrapefruit at
Mon Dec 13 22:42:37 GMT 2010

On Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 5:26 PM, Aaron J. Seigo <aseigo at> wrote:
> On Monday, December 13, 2010, Miha Čančula wrote:
>> The pros and cons I can think of right now are: Pro:
>>   1. Biger clickable area => less chance of misclicks
> not substantially bigger; and in this case it would be interesting to know
> just how many misclicks actually happen using both UI styles.
>>   2. Icons, when they are intuitively identifiable with an action, can be
>> recognised by humans faster and much easier.
> the context menus already have icons in them for these kinds of actions.
>> Con:
>>   3. For actions that are not easily identifiable by an icon, this is very
>> bad. This is the reason only some of the actions would be converted to
>> icon display, as you can see from the mockups and screenshots.
> which means inconsistency: some entires one way, other entries another.
> it means having to scan visually in two different directions which slows usage
> down considerably.
> the loss of vertical alignment, particularly when in the middle of a menu,
> looks very noisy and unfortunate. i'd go so far as to say "ugly".
>> 4. It looks (a little) like the ribbon UI.
> a non-issue.
> unless there is some sound reasoning showing why this is a beneficial change,
> i have to say this looks like a "cool change because we can" type thing. menus
> are hardly a massive usability "problem" as people use them without much fuss.
> it may make more sense to focus on issues that are actually problematic for
> people?
> --
> Aaron J. Seigo
> humru othro a kohnu se
> GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43
> KDE core developer sponsored by Qt Development Frameworks

I think this actually has some interesting potential if handled right.
 If common actions were all handled in this way, then it might
actually lead to more consistancy, and ease of access.  Actions are
not particuallarly consistant across applications, and so it becomes
necessary to read the entire list to find the item you are looking
for.  If cut/copy/paste were always found as icons at the top of the
menu in applications that support them, it would probably lead to
accessing them quicker.  Of course, I'm not sure how many people would
do this vs. the shortcuts that are also well known, but if this was
done for other actions as well, perhaps it would be beneficial?  The
icons should probably always be at the top of the menu, to add that
consistancy, and I'm not sure if there are enough actions out there to
merit the additional code path, but I think that this might actually
be able to develop into something unique and useful.


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