An exciting development has recently come from the world of open source software, offering a glimpse into the near future of website architecture.
The man behind the Ubuntu operating system, Mark Shuttleworth, has just announced an innovative development in the way people interact with software applications. The basic idea behind Head-Up Display (HUD) is to integrate search technology with an application so that nested menus are no longer necessary as navigation tools.
It is no surprise, then, that programmers are already looking for ways to use this technology with websites, which currently offer the same cumbersome nested menus in their design.
Other penetrations of search
This, of course, is just the latest development in a trend toward search as one of the biggest contributors to usability in the digital sphere. Other operating systems have already been implementing search functions, albeit previously from within their menus.
The Start menu in Windows is a good example of this, which features a search box where you can search for files and programs. It allows you to define the area of search by specifying “Search Everywhere” or “Search the Internet”. Mac OS X offers a similar desktop search feature called Spotlight that indexes everything on the system. Though it does not replace menus, a user can access this search function from various applications.
The next step: Replacing menus
With these developments applied to the architecture of a website, traditional menus would be replaced with a faster and more interactive search window. In the HUD model, this mini-window is a transparent layer where the user performs a search for what they want in the application. The search results then immediately present options from which the user chooses a command.
In an application, these search results are culled from tools, operations, settings, etc. But in the context of an internal website search, it offers an interactive way to find information within the site and to navigate through different pages. It also gives users the ability to find what they’re looking for with just one click. This could eventually spell the end of menus as navigation tools, and the predominance of search in website design.
We invite you to keep an eye out for more developments in this area and to visit this blog regularly for updates. When you see it in action, we think you’ll be just as excited about this development in the search revolution as we are.