MenuOptimizer optimizes hierarchical menus for user performance and consistency [UIST’13]

Menu systems are challenging to design because design spaces are immense, and several human factors affect user behavior. This paper contributes to the design of menus with the goal of interactively assisting designers with an optimizer in the loop. To reach this goal, 1) we extend a predictive model of user performance to account for expectations as to item groupings; 2) we adapt an ant colony optimizer that has been proven efficient for this class of problems; and 3) we present MenuOptimizer, a set of interactions integrated into a real interface design tool (QtDesigner). MenuOptimizer supports designers’ abilities to cope with uncertainty and recognize good solutions. It allows designers to delegate combinatorial problems to the optimizer, which should solve them quickly enough without disrupting the design process. We show evidence that satisfactory menu designs can be produced for complex problems in minutes.

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