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Drop-down navigation boxes (fwd)

From: John Nissen <jn@tommy.demon.co.uk>
Date: Sat, 12 Feb 2000 09:48:27 GMT
Message-Id: <63913@tommy.demon.co.uk>
To: w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
Cc: jn@tommy.demon.co.uk

Joe Clarke wrote the message below on CHI-WEB, and summarised the
views of many us agains drop-down navigation boxes.  There is a
further aspect, accessibility, about which the WAI guidelines 
appears silent.   This may be because "they require Java" (does
he mean JavaScript?), but another message in this thread points out
that they are in DHTML and likely to be by W3C for a future HTML.  
(I'll forward that message separately.)  If it is true, it is
bad news for accessibility, and you WAI people should put a stop to it.

Cheers from Chiswick,

Forwarded message follows:

>Date:         Wed, 9 Feb 2000 10:52:38 -0500
>Reply-To: Joe Clark <joeclark@THEBRML.ORG>
>Sender: "ACM SIGCHI WWW Human Factors (Open Discussion)" <CHI-WEB@ACM.ORG>
>From: Joe Clark <joeclark@THEBRML.ORG>
>Subject:      Drop-down navigation boxes - button or no button?

>>I have used drop down boxes and find they can be quite useful... (puts all
>>your choices on one screen without scrolling)
>>we also give the user a choice of a numerical listing, alphabetical listing
>>and a topical listing...
>>(Users indicated that they liked it)
>Reasons not to use them at all:
>1. Options are hidden. Options should not be hidden, according to
>many people. (The use of "hidden information spaces"-- submenus that
>appear only when you mouseover a button-- is contentious. It works in
>many cases but is nonobvious and requires Java. See Aquent discussion
>in my analysis of job-site usability,
>2. There is a temptation to load up the menu with too many options.
>Common example: U.S. state names. (A bad idea anyway-- what if your
>address does not fit that format? Alberta and Queensland aren't U.S.
>states.) You also see this with country names, which guarantees you
>~150 entries. Worst example I ever saw:
><http://www.imiward.com/cgi-local/pjward/Catalogue.cgi>, whose
>search-for-jobs feature insists that you select your specialty from a
>menu of over 200 options (in mixed case, many of which also have
>mysterious codes).
>3. Current UIs for scrolling lists are poor: They insist you scroll.
>Windows does this a bit better, actually, since the list stays up
>after one click; otherwise you have to hold the mouse down, which is
>fatiguing. Many newbies do not know how to scroll beyond the bottom
>of the screen in such a listing. Lynx can optionally number the
>entries in a pull-down menu; why can't IE and Explorer? (Indeed, a
>member of the Microsoft accessibility team dismissed numbering links
>as trivial, as though an easy-to-program feature were worthless.)
>4. They're too "neato" in programmer terms. In other words,
>programmers think they're highly efficient and kewel. If anything
>were the antithesis of usability, that is.
>           Joe Clark
>           joeclark@theBRML.org
>           <http://www.joeclark.uni.cc> (updated & upblogged 2000.02.09)

Access the word, access the world       Tel/fax +44 20 8742 3170/8715
John Nissen                             Email to jn@tommy.demon.co.uk
Cloudworld Ltd., Chiswick, London, UK   http://www.tommy.demon.co.uk
Received on Saturday, 12 February 2000 06:05:56 UTC

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