Larson Technical Services: Voice Technology Consulting

Exercise 5.1

Consider a hierarchy of menus in which the first menu contains categories and the second level of menus contains individual items. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of single level menus with many items versus a two level hierarchy of menus with each menu contain only a small number of items. Be specific in your discussion by using one of the following as an example.

A. Presidents of the United States

There have been 43 U.S. Presidents. Let’s suppose we assign about 7 options to each menu. This suggests a main menu with 7 options and 7 second-level menus each with about 7 options (some menus will have only 6 options). Suppose the first menu of a two level hierarchy of menus categorizes U.S. presidents by the date they tool office. For example, U.S. presidents from 1789 to 1837, from 1837 to 1857, etc. The second level menu lists the presidents serving during the corresponding time period. After selecting a president, the caller hears information about the president.

Single level menu Hierarchy of two levels of menus
Number of options caller hears (worst case) 43 options 7 in the main menu + 7 in a secondary menu = 14 options
Number of options caller hears (average case) 43/2 = 22 (on average, caller hears ½ of the options) 7/2=4 in the main menu + 7/2=4 in a secondary menu = 8

From the point of view of the number of options a caller hears, the hierarchy of two levels is best. But that’s not the full picture. If the caller knows the name of the president, the caller only needs to speak the president’s name for the single level menu case. Here is a further analysis, based on the type of the caller’s query:

Type of query Single level menu Hierarchy of two levels of menus
1. If the caller knows the name of the U.S. president but not the time he served in office. +, The caller speaks the name of the U.S. president to get the associated information. - , The caller must listen to a list of time periods and select the appropriate time period, then listen for the name of the U.S. president.
2. If the caller knows both the name of the U.S. president and the time he served in office +, The caller speaks the name of the U.S. president to get the associated information. +, The caller first selects the timeframe during which the president served, and then selects the president.
3. If the caller knows only the time period. -, The caller must listen to the information associated with each president. + The caller first selects the time frame during which the president served, and then listens to the information about each of the presidents in that time period.
4. The caller knows neither the president’s name or time period -, The caller must listen to the information associated with each president. -, The caller must listen to the information associated with each president

The plus (+) indicates an advantage. The (-) indicates a disadvantage. If most callers have a query of type 1, then a single level menu is best for the greatest number of users

B. Kings of England, similar analysis as above

C. Kings of France, similar analysis as above

D. Emperors of China, similar analysis as above

E. Leaders of your home nation (there must be at least 30 leaders in the list), similar analysis as above

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