Ever since the graphical interface evolved we have used drop down menus as a principal means to organisation and find commands we want to use. But last week the developers of the Ubuntu OS announced that they are making the move away from menus to a "heads up" interface where typed commands or voice are used.
Rather than hunting through menus, users can type the command they think they want into a search box. The system will suggest commands you might want and will use intelligence to look for commands you have used before. This potentially eliminates the problem of when menu structures are changed and you have to re-find where all the commands you like to use now are - something most users of Microsoft Office 2010 will be very used to!
It certainly seems to be an interesting to change to a model that isn't broken but annoys most of us on a daily basis. Whether this is because there is a better way than menus or because they aren't well designed is perhaps the question. Does this fix a problem? It certainly might deal better with the fundamental problem of menus which is whether the designed structure maps to your mental model of where commands should be. Given that we probably all have slightly different models, for many of us the search can be frustrating. Especially for infrequent users.
We wait to see the feedback in use once the OS is released...
Labels: interaction, interface, user experience