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Improving Command Selection with CommandMaps

Designers of GUI applications typically arrange commands in hierarchical structures, such as menus, due to screen space limitations. However, hierarchical organisations are known to slow down expert users. This paper proposes the use of spatial memory in combination with hierarchy flattening as a means of improving GUI performance. We demonstrate these concepts through the design of a command selection interface, called CommandMaps, and analyse its theoretical performance characteristics. We then describe two studies evaluating CommandMaps against menus and Microsoft’s Ribbon interface for both novice and experienced users. Results show that for novice users, there is no significant performance difference between CommandMaps and traditional interfaces – but for experienced users, CommandMaps are significantly faster than both menus and the Ribbon.


Joey Scarr, Andy Cockburn, Carl Gutwin, and Andrea Bunt. 2012. Improving command selection with CommandMaps. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI '12). 257-266. Best Paper Award

Bibtext Entry

author = {Scarr, Joey and Cockburn, Andy and Gutwin, Carl and Bunt, Andrea},
title = {Improving command selection with CommandMaps},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems},
series = {CHI '12},
year = {2012},
isbn = {978-1-4503-1015-4},
location = {Austin, Texas, USA},
pages = {257--266},
numpages = {10},
url = {http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2207676.2207713},
doi = {10.1145/2207676.2207713},
acmid = {2207713},
publisher = {ACM},
address = {New York, NY, USA},
keywords = {commands, expertise, hierarchies, spatial memory},


Andrea Bunt

Andrea Bunt

Associate Professor

As well as: Joey Scarr, Andy Cockburn, and Carl Gutwin