An Empirical Evaluation of Collapsible Panel Interfaces

Although collapsible panel widgets have been widely used in industry for many years in various contexts, there have been no formal evaluations conducted to compare user performance and satisfaction with these interfaces. There is also a lack of formal guidance for user interface designers about how to choose among the many variations of collapsible panel schemes in existence. In this paper, we develop a classification framework and propose an empirical method for evaluating user performance with these interfaces. An experiment was conducted comparing accordions, collapsible panels, and flat panel layouts. This found a clear preference for accordions, with the need to scroll to find targets in the other interfaces cited as a key disadvantage of those approaches. Implications of these findings are discussed.
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