It can be easy to dismiss menus and settings as unimportant, but these brief interludes before the “real software” begins are an essential part of the user experience. In this week’s newsletter, as part of our ongoing forum series on app design, we look at best practices for implementing menus and settings.

In other news, Leap Motion developers around the world are joining a 48-hour hackathon headed by NASA. Will you be among them? Also, we have sample code from the forums, an exploding spaceship, and Bosch at Stanford’s Robot Block Party.

Thinking in Motion: Menus and Settings

Most people judge software within the first few seconds, and these first impressions usually come from menus and settings. By presenting your users with intuitive options and controls, you can set the right tone and pique their interest – before they even get to the heart of your app. You can read our full post on this topic on the forum; here are some of the highlights:

a. Not just intuitive; foolproof. These are interactions that will often be repeated, so they need to feel natural, be incredibly reliable, and not require too much of the user in learning a new or complicated sign language.

b. Take advantage of three dimensions. Draw your inspiration for menu items from physical and real-world behaviors, such as flipping a switch or turning a dial.

c. Feedback, feedback, feedback. Giving users proper cues and feedback is integral to ensuring they feel in complete control. Interactive elements should respond fluidly with appropriate visual and auditory feedback.

d. Use them to reinforce key interactions. First person shooter? Select a level by firing your shotgun at an option. Drum kit? Strike a cymbal to make a selection.

Menus and settings examples from Block 54, Wreck It Ralph: Sugar Rush, and Gravilux.

Above: (1) theLIFT’s Block 54 uses simple and intuitive timed hovers with radial feedback to let users quickly navigate to the main gameplay. (2) Disney Interactive’s Wreck It Ralph: Sugar Rush allows users to select their desired racing kart by grabbing it and placing it on a pedestal. (3) Gravilux by Snibbe Interactive utilizes selection wheels with multiple ‘sticky’ points to choose colors and point density.

Does your software have intuitive, responsive menus? How did you design your settings to match your app’s overall feel? Join the conversation and post your sample code today.

Featured News

On April 20, thousands of people around the world will begin a 48-hour quest to advance space exploration and improve the quality of life on Earth. It’s the International Space Apps Challenge – and you can be a part of it.

International Space Apps Challenge

As a global event sponsor, we have provided Leap Motion Controllers to hacking sites in San Francisco, Reno, Toronto, New York City, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Rochester, and Singapore. You can also join the online community and hack from home.

We strongly encourage developers who are interested in creating beautiful 3D science and education apps – software that allows you to catch a meteor, rotate the earth in your hands, or explore alien landscapes – to sign up for this incredible global event. Read more on our news post or check out the event website.

Forum Highlights

Your friends at theLIFT have done it again. After sharing Unity UI elements and sample code for tweezers control and a timer button last week, their team has posted a touch-and-release sample for the community.

Control anything on your screen. It’s a big promise, but SuperhumanSF delivers with their small, simple, and totally immersive sample code for Leap Box2D. Best of all, everyone is welcome to use and build on the code in their own projects.

With only 110 lines of code, Brendandawes’ video scrubbing script for the Leap Motion Controller is simple but effective. This example for the LeapMotionP5 library allows your open hand to pause a video, so you can seek left (backward) or right (forward). Closing your hand plays the video.

Mohydine’s upcoming spaceship-flying game might still be in development, but it already looks breathtaking. The game’s first level allows you to rocket through the cavernous passages of an exploding mothership.

Mohydine's spaceship-flying game

Developer Events

Robot Block Party

Wednesday, April 10 @ 1 – 6 p.m.
Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab, Stanford University
Bosch will be showcasing their work with the Leap Motion Controller as a part of National Robotics Week. Everyone is welcome to attend and see Bosch’s creation, along with cutting-edge robotics from companies throughout the Bay Area. You can learn more on our news post.

Are you giving a Leap Motion controller demo? Looking to meet and collaborate with other developers? Post your event notices in the Events & Meetups forum.