Friday, April 20, 2018

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!


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

On mobile, the answer is obviously two-fold — screen real estate and touch. From before the iPhone to today’s relatively large screen smartphones, screen real estate remains a precious commodity. Even the most common functionality like notifications require various gestural incantations so they can accessed without onscreen controls, and because of touch, anything that does require onscreen controls does so at over double the cost of real estate to accommodate for larger and less precise fingers.

Via John Gruber:

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.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

[…] Previously: Apple Rumored to Combine iPhone, iPad, and Mac Apps to Create One User Experience, The Menu Bar. […]

Don't forget BitBar. Best thing since sliced bread.

Jay, is this the app?

Looks really cool actually. I've never heard of it until now, unless age is catching up and I've merely forgotten. :)

Will pass along the app suggestion to my Mac users.

Hadn’t heard of bitbar, thanks for posting the link Nathan. If you’re into BitBar you may also find Hammerspoon interesting. It has an API for easily adding menubar programs / applets with quite a bit of power / functionality.

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