Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm trying to decide what the best way to display the following options to a user is:

  • Contact / Social Connection Links (ex. find "company name" on Twitter / Facebook)
  • Support options (ex. in-app documentation, support links, contact options)
  • Sharing options (ex. share this app, donate, buy iPhone edition)
  • Brief preferences / settings

Currently I display this information in a single window: enter image description here

I feel that the information could be better conveyed through a menu like this:

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

I have a feeling that the support options and preferences should be in an entirely different section altogether. But how should everything be displayed? Would a menu or window be a better experience for the user? Something else?

Help, tips, ideas, suggestions are all appreciated.

share|improve this question
    
Could you clarify what the Web/Twitter/Facebook buttons do? Who's profiles does that link to, or what does it do? –  Koen Lageveen May 11 '13 at 10:18
    
@KoenLageveen They are links to the product / developer's profiles and sites for the app. –  Sam May 11 '13 at 15:30
    
Thanks, I've updated my answer to reflect this. –  Koen Lageveen May 11 '13 at 18:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

If this is on OSX, the Preferences go in the "App name" menu, not in Help. And that should only feature actual preferences and settings.

Contact and Support/documentation do go in Help. It's not a preference to look at documentation. You could have an "About" popup, accessed from the Help menu, similar to what you have now. This could feature these options: Contact, Support/documentation, Share, Download iPhone/iPad edition. But be sure the documentation is also directly accessible from the Help menu.

So... Having everything in a menu gives your users direct access to them. It also clutters things up and you don't really have the space to explain what each thing does. I think this mockup already stretches what you can put in the Help menu, so I would consider moving a number of things to the About popup. While Donate should probably stay, it would be better to collect things like Facebook, Twitter, Website, Contact etc. in an About popup.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

share|improve this answer
    
Actually, on MacOS X, the first item of the "Application Name" menu is "About Application Name". So that should not go in Help. –  uliwitness Oct 26 at 3:38

I would take a three-pronged approach.

  1. Put it all in standard locations. "About" and "Preferences" both go in the menu named after your application (let's call it "Application Menu"). Preferences should only contain actual preferences, i.e. in your case "Select Theme/Skin". Help and documentation usually go in the "Help" menu. Often people also put Support/Contact in there, but I would only put your preferred and simplest form of contact there (ideally a web form or e-mail link), so even beginners can easily contact you without having to sign up with Twitter or figure out how Twitter works.

    Twitter links, web site URL and other "secondary" contact information should go in the About window, where people curious about your app will hopefully look when trying to determine who they are dealing with, near to your Copyright info. If "Share" is just about telling people about your app, it'd go in there, too. But really, I'd leave that out. If it was for e.g. posting info about the user's content, I'd make it more prominent, an icon in the main window or a "Share" menu like QuickTime Player and Garage Band have it.

  2. Add a Welcome window. Many apps have a "What's new" window they show at first startup and after each update (don't show it on every launch, and include a "don't show this again" checkbox). In that, you can add all the social media stuff you want, like Twitter links, iPad app, "like" buttons etc. But don't overdo it. You should always ask yourself whether the user is actually interested in this info, at this particular time. Screen space is limited, so save easily accessible main window and menu bar space for important, repeatedly used things and hide less frequently (or urgently) needed stuff deeper down.

  3. Add help buttons to error alerts and other situations where you think people will need support. We have an object that we just drop in a XIB whose sole job it is to open a URL of the form "ourcompany.com/support/SOME_KEY" in response to a help button click. Each help button gets a different key (e.g. "NO_SUCH_FILE_IN_GIF_EXPORT" or "MAIN_WINDOW_SIDEBAR" or whatever) so we can direct the user to the most relevant support article. As a side effect, users viewing these URLs gives us a hint which parts of the app they most have problems with to inform future development.

But most important is that you don't go overboard with it. The more options you offer, the more likely users will be overwhelmed and not use any of them. Try to keep it simple.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.