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We're developing a dashboard, and now we have a fullscreen dashboard that includes a sliding menu (which is invisible from start) with chart types to drag and drop onto the dashboard.

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When user clicks on Charts button (right corner), menu slides from top:

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The question is whether it is a good approach to show sliding menu with items to drag-n-drop onto the dashboard. I see couple advantages as well as disadvantages of such approach. What do you think?

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Is this for desktop or handheld devices? –  sree Jun 29 '12 at 18:20
    
This is desktop web app –  Paul Podlipensky Jun 29 '12 at 19:22
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4 Answers

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Sliding down, why not? We have similar technology for toolbars on Mac OS X (right click or ctrl-click on header)

The question is more of: is there enough affordance for the drag & drop of the widgets? (See Norman) The problem with drag & drop techniques 90-95% of the time is lack of affordance

That means, that the user will open that Edit Dashboard thingy (what would the the text "Export Dashboard" do in a menu called Charts? ), but it's not sure that they'll realize that these widgets are to be dragged.

"No, my users are more clever than this, they ain't stupid" - how many times did I hear this stuff... if you think they are, conduct a user research to make sure.

After all, it worked for Apple with Dashboard, there they have to be dragged, but if you just click on them, as far as I remember, they drop it in the middle of everything for you.

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If it's clear that the charts button is a drop down that's filled with Drag and Drop options, then I see no problem with it.

But what you've currently got doesn't even hint at acting like a drop down and is right next to the logout button (generally not the best idea). Adding a down caret would help a lot, along with associating the button with other editing features.

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The common pattern for this is the "toolbox". If your users are already familiar with those from other applications, you should definitely style it as such.

As Aadaam noted, a toolbox doesn't have checkboxes or hyperlinks. A "Graph toolbox" title will further explain the function of the window without being distracting.

If you move the other settings to an "Options" window, you would need two buttons. Each button would create a window that offers a set of related choices. This kind of consistency is not immediately obvious, yet it helps usability by rewarding learned behavior: "This kind of button leads to a new window" , "This option is probably similar to the other options in the same window".

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I agree with the lack of affordance on drag & drop. It also adds more effort to development, especially when supporting various versions of Internet Explorer. Drag & drop is sexy, and sells well, but I ran into a nearly identical issue with a dashboard widget type app only a few weeks ago. We opted for showing an + button in the widget gallery to indicate that you could click to add that widget. Upon clicking, then the users was prompted to pick a position on the dashboard. Definitely not as sexy, but saved us some headaches on the development side.

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