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I am building a map-like interface and there will be several actions user will be able to perform on objects. For clarity lets assume I want to click on point A and select an action to navigate to point B - like in Google Maps.

I was planing to use a radial navigation that you guys praised for speed and usability and if I am right radial menu that pops up around selected object can be regarded as direct manipulation interface.

But Google is not using direct manipulation in it's latest redesign of it's map app - neither on desktop nor on touch devices.

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I assume there are situations when classic unassociated menu is better than direct manipulation. Why did Google decide the way it did? How do I decide? Should I copy Google for the sake of familiarity or should I use radial menu around selected object to embrace direct manipulation?

Any advice is welcome.

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Firstly with Google Maps there are two routes to a location

  • search box
  • browse map

If an location information is always displayed same place regardless of the route used to find it this is a UX win in terms of Consistency heuristic.

Secondly note that in Google maps the linear menu changes. This means that a radial menu would alter. And thus any benefit of "consistency [that] allows users to create a more efficient muscle memory." is lost.

Thirdly basing a location's UI around search box enables

  • efficient navigation from search box
  • clutter free exploration around point of interest
  • more real estate for white space and extended services
  • seamlessly hold current marker location even during zoom, pan
  • Large UI block not far from centre of map (deafult POI location) is reasonably efficient wrt Fitts law

Should you have radial menu? If you have no search, a uniform menu that does not use extensive real estate and no risk about clutter around POI then yes.

  • Thanks, that's a perfect answer. I will undoubtedly need a search box in my map too so I am thinking of following the Google Map path. – daniel.sedlacek May 20 '14 at 21:36

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