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Indication to hint that a context menu is available

asked 2014-02-07 03:10:17 +0300

00prometheus gravatar image

updated 2015-06-26 23:05:43 +0300

I recently had a long think with a friend who also has a Jolla, when trying to set the APN for his telephone network. The answer was to long-click on a certain item in the "Mobile Data" settings, however there was no hint whatsoever that the item had a hidden context menu! As it is right now, there is no way to find the context-menus other than trying to long-click every element there is. I would like to see a consistent system-wide hint for any item that has a context menu, so that you know to look for one.

EDIT: @jgr makes an interesting point below: Desktop OS's always have alternative ways to reach all functionality hidden in the context menus (standard menu bars, etc), the context menu is merely a shortcut to the functionality. In Sailfish, the functionality in context menus is not reachable from anywhere else. This makes it close to impossible to explore the functionality hidden in context menus without a visual cue.

EDIT2: This issue has shown its importance again: The Jolla now has support for IPv6, but activating IPv6 or dual IPv6/IPv4 is hidden under an unmarked hold-to-open context menu. Try to find where it is and you will understand why this issue is important (not to mention annoying)! We need to figure out a way of hinting where these menus are!

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Very interesting... this made me realize that I do not know a single system that indicates the availability of context menus. With all those UX specialists around, why is this widely accepted as being trial & error?

tokaru ( 2014-05-05 11:20:00 +0300 )edit

@tokaru: Because usually:

  • The context menu is one of several paths to your destination (one of the many ways to Rome). Other operating systems provide also more obvious paths, e.g. the program window menu.
    With Sailfish OS, that menu is the only way to Rome (therefore, I rather call it "local menu", to differentiate it from the menu providing just context-selected alternatives to the main menu).
  • When there is a context menu available in other systems, it is available for all elements (at least elements of the same type), e.g. on the Windows desktop and in many Windows programs you can right-click anywhere, there always will appear a context menu.
    With Sailfish OS, only some elements have a context menu (and others on the same level do not).
jgr ( 2014-05-06 01:18:19 +0300 )edit

Thanks for your thoughts on this... while that's true for desktop systems (at least there should be alternative ways, if not it is usually just bad UI design), it still doesn't explain why all the mobile operating systems don't bother (not only SailfishOS)

tokaru ( 2014-05-06 11:34:57 +0300 )edit

@tokaru: interesting question! I think it is not true for desktop systems because they rely on "learned behavior" or "common knowledge". It took a while before users got used to desktop systems as we now them today. Now the existence of a context menu is as naturally as turning a switch on the wall to get the light on. Here on SailfishOS the context menu is more an exception and therefor needs some hints (IMHO).

hardcodes.de ( 2014-05-06 12:17:57 +0300 )edit

hmm, I tried every item in settings to see if I can set it to favourites... you do recognize that there is actually only a need for a proper userguide or do you happen to know which items on a desktopPC have a rightclick menu?

chemist ( 2014-05-07 00:51:57 +0300 )edit

4 Answers

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answered 2014-02-07 07:33:39 +0300

ymb gravatar image

could be something like the "frosted glass effect" that is used for the on/off state buttons/indicators.

kind of subtle, but more obvious than the current having to guess and long press things in the hope there is a context menu

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I like subtle, all I need is really just a small hint so that I know that there is some point to holding my finger at a certain spot for several seconds!

00prometheus ( 2014-02-07 16:06:38 +0300 )edit

Then again functionality (even if 'advanced') should not be subtle. The explorations options should be obvious to the user. There may be shortcuts available which are subtle and that the power user can learn to use, but things shouldn't be hidden from the ability to explore.

Setok ( 2014-04-17 01:48:38 +0300 )edit

I think the interpretation of 'subtle' is the issue here. With skill, you can make something that is visually subtle (just a small number of pixels on the screen), but still becomes conceptually obvious to the user. I believe @ymb meant the visual cue to be subtle, not the concept itself.

00prometheus ( 2014-05-06 16:58:18 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-05-08 18:38:28 +0300

00prometheus gravatar image

updated 2015-06-26 23:03:37 +0300

There has been much concern over an indicator like this cluttering up the UI. A suggestion to keep the UI completely clean under normal circumstances, but still indicate where all the context menus are:

After a long-press (i.e. an attempt to use a context menu), all elements with a context menu get highlighted (for example by the frosted glass effect). So if you open a context menu, you will also see where all other context menus are. The long-press will also react everywhere, even if there is no context menu at that position: if you try to open a context-menu where there isn't one, it will show you where they are. The high-lighting will remain as long as you only scroll around without activating anything, but will disappear if you perform some action, e.g. select an option, pull/swipe, or use a menu. When the highlighting is turned off, the UI looks exactly the same as now.

There could be an option for activating the highlighting at all, for those who prefer how it is now.

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maybe as a variation:

  • global (beginner) setting to globally turn the indicator on
  • developer setting to override the global setting = even if it is globally set off I want to show it here because I know it is a situation where the existence of a context menu is not self-explanatory
  • global settings where the user can choose to have all elements (with context menu) highlighted or indicated if another potential context menu is pressed long
hardcodes.de ( 2014-05-08 21:05:20 +0300 )edit

answered 2014-02-11 18:37:39 +0300

JoneKone gravatar image

Maybe also a "beginner mode" where any available swipe or menu is indicated by a "ribbon" or icon on that edge with a clarifying text like "close", "next", "home" etc.

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answered 2015-06-27 07:53:46 +0300

For Mobile data settings i had posted a thread here https://together.jolla.com/question/81017/setting-mobile-data-edit-easily-discoverable/

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Asked: 2014-02-07 03:10:17 +0300

Seen: 1,078 times

Last updated: Jun 27 '15