The Menu Bar

Jack Wellborn:

The menu bar has been, and in my opinion remains, the best mechanism for providing familiarity, discoverability, and progressive disclosure in user interfaces on any platform. Even beyond the Mac, anyone who has clicked on a File menu in one platform has a pretty good shot at guessing where a Save command might be when provided a File menu somewhere else. Likewise and also regardless of operating system, someone presented with an entirely new application can safely open and explore menus to try and locate features they might need. Never pivoted data before, but need to for the first time? Hey look, there’s a menu in the bar called Data! Finally, let’s say that same seemingly one-time operation becomes a regular course of action that is needed multiple times a day. The best menu bars provide an equivalent keyboard shortcut right next to the command so, for example, anyone can discover how to save using command — s without having to be told.

So then why are menu bars fading out of more modern UX conventions?

Such a great piece. The menu bar, in my opinion, is the single biggest reason why Mac apps can grow to a greater manageable complexity than iOS apps. I’m not saying iOS should get a menu bar — I’m saying this is why it makes sense for Apple to maintain its dual platform strategy. The Mac’s menu bar — and the many dozens of commands it allows an app to offer in an organized, out-of-your-way-until-you-want-to-see-it system-wide standard interface — epitomizes my argument from when the iPad first shipped: It’s the heaviness of the Mac that allows iOS to remain light.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018