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Our web application is built around a single entity, say A.

User creates A1. Then user can do a limited number of actions on A1. If one of this actions is taken by the user on A1, A1 changes to another state and the actions available on A1 changes. User takes another action on A1. State changes and user has different available actions and so on.

One user can have around 3 to 5 entities in his/her inventory.

Current navigation system is based on actions organized in a classic drop-down menu. User selects an action and filters entities to take action on. Takes the action on entity. Selects another action from the menu. If the new action is available for the last entity selected, we display the new action page, otherwise we display a filter control to select a suitable entity. This is a problem because there are a lot of actions resulting in a complex menu with lots of items and user stacking on the workflow. (What can/do I do next?)

We are trying to switch to a navigation that is more user friendly and self explanatory.

Here is what we have so far.

  1. At home page, User selects an entity.
  2. Available actions displayed.
  3. User selects an action and navigates to action page.
  4. A static navigation bar is displayed somewhere on page that shows the current entity and available actions.
  5. User can change entity from the menu at any time and available actions are displayed on the navigation bar as the selection changes.

Is this a good approach in terms of user experience? Are there any user interface patterns that is applicable to this case?

Thanks in advance.


I will add some sketches.

Here is the current menu-driven navigation system.

User Selects an Action User Selects an Action

User Finds an Entity User Finds an Entity

User Selects an Entity User Selects an Entity

User Performs the Action User Performs the Action

Action Complete Action Complete

And here is task-driven navigation system.

User Selects an Entity User Selects an Entity

User Selects an Action User Selects an Action

User Performs Action User Performs Action

Action Complete Action Complete

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1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

When I read this my immediate thought is the Wizard deign pattern where you have a user who needs to achieve a single goal which consists of multiple dependable sub-tasks. One way to do this is to use a Wizard.

The task of inputting data into the system is parted into multiple steps. Each step is presented to the user one at a time.

The user should be presented with information about the steps that exist and which are completed

Keep the wizard’s purpose clear on every screen by placing a clear and concise label on every screen.

A wizard is good to use as it takes the pressure off the user and no cognitive load is added. However, the wizard can be time consuming and the user needs to take many actions to complete the overall task. This can be frustrating for user who repeatedly uses the wizard to complete task. To overcome this problem, you could implement a faster but more complicated UI as long as the labelling of inputs and selectors are the same as in the wizard. Experienced user can work faster and inexperienced user avoid to do something wrong, as long as you keep the wizard as default with the option to remove it later when users feel it’s in the way.

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Thanks for your valuable response. The thing is, "multiple dependable sub-tasks" in our application are too complex to be a single step for a wizard control. In addition those tasks can be done at different sessions on a time interval. I'll try to update my question with some sketches. –  Yiğit Yener Jan 22 '13 at 11:01
    
I've added some sketches. Can you please take a look now? –  Yiğit Yener Jan 22 '13 at 11:56
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