Case Study —The Menu Button

The study is inspired by my parents. Every time I come back home, they’ll always ask me to solve their “technical” problem of mobile or computer interface.

I found out that when given a new device(computer,mobile phone,iPad), they all get stuck in the first step — don’t know where to start (i.e. where’s the menu). Then, I do this trying to figure out how the menu has evolved, and how can we improve it to make it more user friendly (or that’s say — elderly friendly).

Furthermore, they usually intend to act as they are communicating with a real person, instead of a machine. So, the total user experience is built based on the instinct — they expect the machine will automatically fixes wrong grammar/spelling, scroll or move every single elements to anywhere or link directly to the app/website they’d like to go — just like the way people perform service. (would AI be a good solution for this? still in a question mark)

Anyway, here's the simple evolution of the menu-function button:

  1. “Start” of Windows : This is quite straight and clear, the "start" button appears to be the very first imply for users to click on for more information.
  2. The hamburger button : most website/app do this, but the button has been complained for not instinctive as users could not related this into the idea of "more information", they just see four horizontal-lines.
  3. The house button: This appears on most HTC phones. Again, the same problem appears, still no relation to "more information".
  4. The square button with text "app": This appears on most Samsung and Sony phones. Much clear and related with the message of "click me to see more apps".
  5. No menu, just a display of all your installed app: This is how Apple deal with this problem. So no more misunderstanding and confusion about where the menu is, you've already in the menu once you open the device.

I do like Apple's solution the most, really clever enough. Will keep update this if anything pops up :)

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