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Currently my team and I are creating standards for our software and we're running into a disagreement around the file menu location. We're trying to be modern in our software by trying to emulate some other popular software's choices regarding the file menu. An example of this would be Adobe's CC applications where they put the file menu in the chrome.

Adobe CC File Menu

We're currently trying to decide between two different designs and the choice ultimately comes down to usability.

We could go with the traditional approach:

Traditional File Menu

Pros:

  • Users are familiar with this format
  • Very easy to understand where the menu is
  • It's located in the top left corner (always)

Cons:

  • It uses 30 pixels of vertical space

The other version we have is where the file menu is in the chrome:

Potential File Menu

Pros:

  • It saves 30 pixels of vertical space (Which is very helpful in software, because there isn't vertical scrolling)
  • It looks modern
  • Fitt's Law dictates that these targets would be easier to hit due to an infinite target

Cons:

  • The file menu wont always be in the same location (Due to marketing, we always need to include the product name in the chrome, next to the logo)

My question for the community is:

Do any usability issues arise by putting the menu in the chrome?

I searched for answers but couldn't find anything concrete.

Thanks!

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    Following the guidelines and conventions of the host OS is usually the best idea. You can get away with deviation if your application will be used with exclusive focus for a prolonged amount of time – that mostly applies to games, but some professional software may be used on certain work-stations (almost) exclusively. Some Adobe products can be close to or even achieve that status, but more often they are used on generic office PCs where it’s a bad ideato break customs. (They chose to harmonize interfaces among their applications, which they also market in a suite, you probably don’t.) – Crissov Feb 6 '16 at 9:35
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It looks modern

In UX, this is a terrible reason to do anything.

Traditional

  • More empty space on the title bar means it can be easily accessed with the cursor. For large desktop screens, this is a blessing in not needing to slowly aim your cursor towards available space to move a window.
  • "Users are familiar with this format"

Integrated

  • Less space available to use for a user to move the window. Only the right side of the title bar is available.
  • Menu locations should be able to accessed quickly.People use their peripheral vision to efficiently do this. The user should be able to make a "best guess" swift movement with their mouse and be able to click their target. With the application's logo, this adds unnecessary noise around the menu buttons.

Your job is to make the user's life as easy as possible. For example, lets use Google Chrome's back button. In the image below, notice that even outside the border that appears on hover, the button is still clickable.

bigger bounds

Where screen estate is not an issue, the traditional approach is the winner. However, we've moved onto compact screen estates, and this is where tradeoffs happen.

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