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Chris Breisch   .NET Data Practices
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You don't know what Fitts' Law is?  Neither did I, but it's a very important one when considering UI design.  From Wikipedia:

In ergonomics, Fitts' law is a model of human movement, predicting the time required to rapidly move from a starting position to a final target area, as a function of the distance to the target and the size of the target. Fitts' law is used to model the act of pointing, both in the real world, for example, with a hand or finger and on computers, for example, with a mouse. It was published by Paul Fitts in 1954.

What does this tell us?  That Apple's been paying attention to Fitts' Law, and Microsoft hasn't.

How?  Jeff Atwood explains:

Macintosh menus aren't attached to the application window-- they're always at the top of the screen. Since the cursor stops at the edge of the screen, for the purposes of Fitts' law calculation, Macintosh menus are infinitely tall! Thus, Macintosh menus are faster to navigate.

Of course, as Jeff points out, Apple's solution has its own set of problems.

Fitts' law isn't just about making things larger and easier to click on. It's about maximizing the utility of the natural borders on the edges of your screen

I know a specific Fitts' Law violation that gets me all the time (and one of the commenters on mentioned it as well).  Is your "start" button infinitely tall?  Mine isn't, because it's not in the lower left corner.  My task bar is two rows high, and instead of being anchored to the bottom left of the taskbar, it's anchored to the top left.  Irritating.

Posted on Friday, September 8, 2006 6:34 AM General | Back to top


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