Chrome-esque Icon-Based Orbital Context Menu

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, August 13th, 2009 | Permalink | 2 Comments

This is a post I made to the suggestion section in Google Forums for Chrome. I highly recommend you read the brief and comment/vote based on what you think.

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Chrome/thread?tid=237226f0615d2dbc

Chrome prides itself on being a fast and efficient browser. This icon-based orbital context menu suggestion would set chrome apart from the ‘others’, by revamping the currently ‘boring’ and monotonous right click menu, which is currently common across all browsers (at least ones that I’ve used!). Take a moment to read the brief below, and let me know what you think of the idea.

Menu Design

Designed in a Chrome-esque fashion, right click items are instead represented by icons and placed in a circle around the right click position. The icons would be a monotone colour, matching the dominant GUI colour of Chrome (depending on theme of course), but ultimately be simple outlines of the ‘action’ in question. Icons such as a printer would represent the action ‘Print…’, while a floppy disk would represent the action ‘Save As…’, view page source represented by a magnifying glass over a text-filled page just to lead a few ideas. I might make a mock-up and post it on here assuming I get time!

Icons are more memorable and quickly identifiable then searching a menu full of text. This icon based orbital context menu would mean actions such as Back, Forward, Reload could all be formed much faster, not dissimilar to ‘gestures’. Placement examples include where the ‘Back’ icon/action would be optimally placed to the ‘left’ of the orbital menu, while ‘Forward’ icon/action would be optimal on the ‘right’.

Mock-Up Right Click Menu for Chrome
This menu is similar to that used in ‘The Sims’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’.

Icons would appear after the user right clicks; a short animation as if the icons were ’emerging’ from the right click origin (as opposed to all appearing instantly, all at once). When hovered, the icon would appear ‘highlighted’ and given a more dominant position. This is explained in more detail, below.

Mock-Up Right Click Menu for Chrome

Menu Usability

The user would ultimately select an option my moving the mouse in the direction of the action. The action is then ‘highlighted’ (by increasing in size and increase in icon brightness, possible with a light ‘aurora’ behind it), while a text label of the action in question could also appear. The mouse action would be unique in that when the user holds down the right click button, the menu appears, and the action will be selected once the user releases the right mouse button. This of course could be an option in the settings depending on the user’s preference. Alternatively the orbital context menu would stay open until the user clicks again.

The mouse action used to say preset words in ‘Left 4 Dead’ would be the optimal mouse selection method while the mouse action in menus of ‘The Sims’ would be similar to the ‘alternative’  (set on an option basis in Chrome ‘Options’) method. While the later method would be somewhat less efficient, it would still be easier to navigate than the current implementation.

The orbital menu would resize depending on how many actions are available, for example, when right clicking in a text box, the number of actions is greater than the context menu of a link. Icons would be about 48×48 at most, however could also resize based on the current ‘zoom’ level of a web page.


Overall

This feature would set Chrome apart with a unique context menu that could potentially also make its way into the ‘download’ and ‘history’ pages as well. The icons are easier to ‘remember’ and would speed up user browsing time.

Take a moment to leave your thoughts below. I already can imagine the implementation, can you?!

  1. wow

    and i actually assumed i was the first one to figure something like this must be done 🙂
    have been meditating on this for over a year, and not just in regards for chrome, but the orbital
    context menu in general (funny i picked the same name).

    our daily usage process of os gui’s is becoming too dull, we need to spice it up 🙂

    Comment by spathi — September 8, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  2. Haha,

    Well great minds think alike 😉

    I had also been sitting on this one for a little while – figured something needed to be said 😛 The context menu is one of the most boring and seemingly un-intuitive parts of the OS/Browser. It is even common across Windows, Apple and Linux… not to mention all the browsers! It needs to be made something unique 😉

    Comment by Jake — September 8, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

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