On Windows Phone it's possible to provide a context menu to the user when an item is long pressed.

I have a list of items (waypoints the user has added to a map) which I'd like the user to perform various actions on: Go to, delete, edit, share, etc.

The easiest thing to do would be to provide a context menu when the item is long-pressed. However I feel this isn't an obvious UI interaction so many users may end up missing it.

I'm a newbie at Windows Phone development so am seeking advice to try and provide the best user experience... Does anyone have any nice alternative suggestions that would work well with a list based on the standard Windows Phone UI? Or perhaps some convention to use that makes sure the user is aware of the context menu?

The list items are rich in detail already, showing name, timestamp, latitude and longitude - so this can be further enriched. But I'd like to follow existing well established conventions where possible.


From playing more I'm coming to the conclusion that using a tilt animation on the tapped item could be interpreted by the user that there's possibly a context menu available if they keep their finger on the item. Not 100% sure, but this is the method I'm favoring at present.

  • Tilt animation also represents items which respond to user input and may take user to another page. – Toni Petrina Feb 25 '14 at 15:36

The Twitter app for Windows Phone actually shows the three dots as a button, where they would like you to be able to open a context menu. When you tap these 3 dots, the context menu opens without needing a long press.


Perhaps you can add the 3 dots to the far left or right of the list items, make them pressable as a button as in Twitter, in addition to the long-press on the list items?

  • 1
    FYI, "three dots" = elipses – DA01 Aug 22 '13 at 17:29

The long press, from a UX perspective is an odd behavior, but to a user who reads his/her phone manual - it would be a known interaction.

There are many applications that ship with this feature in their UI, but most of them fail to give the user a sign that provokes the user to do to a long press action on it.

The easiest thing - as you said is the context list. You can make it obvious by including a visual clue such as a + or something like a menu sign http://thenounproject.com/noun/list/#icon-No15442, http://thenounproject.com/noun/expand/#icon-No6486 on your UI.

Here's an example from an app I use everyday. Both long-press and tapping on the "visual-icon" or "clue" brings up the context menu.

enter image description here

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    p.s. the point is - you have to let the user know "once" about the interaction, they never forget after that. – Rayraegah Jun 19 '13 at 14:00
  • Thanks for the feedback - a visual cue sounds like a good way to go, though the screenshots are using a convention more common to Android (my everyday phone). I'm hoping to keep the Windows Phone app a bit more Windows Phone pure in its conventions. – Gavin Jun 19 '13 at 22:56
  • Your p.s. makes a good point - may be worth me showing a brief message to user first time they enter the screen and there's actually waypoints present to interact with. Thank you. – Gavin Jun 19 '13 at 22:57
  • You can always include a little "help" section in your app, that details the interactions to the user. – Rayraegah Jun 20 '13 at 10:39
  • I only read the help when really stuck, I'd prefer to make the interaction obvious and not need any help to understand it ;) Thanks for the idea though. – Gavin Jun 20 '13 at 23:05

I've been using WP7 for a year and a half (and mostly loving it) and I agree with you that the "long press-context menu" interaction is one that goes unremembered more often than it should. I regularly use it in Pictures and other default WP7 apps, but I think a lack of such functionality in early Marketplace apps trained me to not even bother with non-Microsoft apps, unless it was explicitly stated.

You may also want to look at the [...] cue for indicating the presence of a menu - see how Pictures and Facebook display photos for an example of a very non-obtrusive indicator. Since you're talking about waypoints on a map, and performing actions on individual points, simply getting the user to tap on those points to call up a menu may be a good idea - look at the way bookmark stars expand into callouts in the default Maps for inspiration.

  • Cheers for the answer - very much appreciated. I forgot to mention that I was playing with keeping a simple tap for jumping straight to the waypoint on the map. I like the [...] cue though - might work better as a button in this case, much like interaction with the app bar. – Gavin Jun 19 '13 at 22:52
  • I'm interested in knowing what you decide to use in the end. keep us posted! – Jessica Yang Jun 28 '13 at 3:06
  • Hi Jessica - not 100% sure yet myself, but for now I've gone with the option I've just posted as an answer. Basically using animation as a cue. Seems to be a bit of a convention in some apps I'm feeling. – Gavin Jun 28 '13 at 4:20
  • Hi Gavin, it would be interesting to see how you control the animation because I have found it annoying sometimes when animations distract you from the task in hand. Hopefully you have included an option to switch it on and off rather than as a permanent behaviour of the control. – Michael Lai Jul 16 '13 at 23:01
  • @Michael Lai - I only show the slight tilt animation when item is touched. Just like in many native WP8 apps. – Gavin Aug 22 '13 at 21:53

Definitely use the application bar. Have your content be clearly selectable and use the appbar to provide actions quickly.

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