Critiquing the Office 2007 (was Re: Microsoft to license Office 2007 UI system)

28 Nov 2006 - 12:48pm
7 years ago
9 replies
1234 reads
Dave Malouf
2005

Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> Whereas web-based apps are starting to look and perform more and more
> like desktop applications, this is going the other direction - a
> desktop app looking like and operating like a web-app. It's just
> another case of MS throwing everything including the Kitchen sink at
> the display.
>
> Just because you have more pixels doesn't mean you should use them.
>
> When will they learn?
>

Todd, I find the above critique to be very surface.

There is a lot of published detail that is quite convincing about how they
came to this design and what problems they are hoping to solve from
earlier Office designs.

Also, I don't find this very "webby" at all except to say that "webby"
means conventionless and this being a new convention without a lot of
precident would confirm that.

Lastly, the ribbon is only a small part of the changes they've done to
office and to look at the Ribbon as the only major change to me feels also
very surface as a critique.

My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few months
now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very sound.

1. See before you do is REALLY helpful.
2. The tabs and associated ribbon as a way of presenting things in a more
discoverable fashion does work over time. It has a learning curve, but
that curve definitely pays off.
3. text formatting widgets as overlay within the text editing space is
GREAT! No longer having to go "all the way" back to the top for the
toolbar to do things like bullets and alignment and other primary
formatting changes is brilliant.

And this is just the beginning.

Things that I miss from the Mac Office 2004 version is the right panel
palettes akin to Adobe software. Since our screens are wider than they are
high and since Word and PPT docs seem to be vertically focused, using this
right space seemed to work better than the ribbon. But since Excel is more
horizontal than vertical and PPT can be horizontal in nature I can see
that if I had to choose a vertical or a horizontal approach I may go with
the horizontal one. Also, if I want to have multiple word docs open
(something very common) the extra horizontal space in the vertical
approach goes away and it would be better to use the height.

Over all, licensing aside, I really like the new version of Office. It is
a bold move for a company that has been locked with its legacy for way too
long in the Windows space. They did 1000's of hours of research for this
project, and I wouldn't want to be so quip with snubbing it out of hand.

-- dave

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

Comments

28 Nov 2006 - 1:35pm
russwilson
2005

Dave,

Can you share any links to the published detail on the
research they conducted?

Fwiw, and maybe because I haven't moved through the learning
curve yet, I hate the ribbon... (but appreciate the other
improvements)

Thanks,
Russ

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
David Malouf
Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:48 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Critiquing the Office 2007 (was Re: Microsoft to
license Office 2007 UI system)

Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:

> Whereas web-based apps are starting to look and perform more and more
> like desktop applications, this is going the other direction - a
> desktop app looking like and operating like a web-app. It's just
> another case of MS throwing everything including the Kitchen sink at
> the display.
>
> Just because you have more pixels doesn't mean you should use them.
>
> When will they learn?
>

Todd, I find the above critique to be very surface.

There is a lot of published detail that is quite convincing about how
they came to this design and what problems they are hoping to solve from
earlier Office designs.

Also, I don't find this very "webby" at all except to say that "webby"
means conventionless and this being a new convention without a lot of
precident would confirm that.

Lastly, the ribbon is only a small part of the changes they've done to
office and to look at the Ribbon as the only major change to me feels
also very surface as a critique.

My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few months
now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very sound.

1. See before you do is REALLY helpful.
2. The tabs and associated ribbon as a way of presenting things in a
more discoverable fashion does work over time. It has a learning curve,
but that curve definitely pays off.
3. text formatting widgets as overlay within the text editing space is
GREAT! No longer having to go "all the way" back to the top for the
toolbar to do things like bullets and alignment and other primary
formatting changes is brilliant.

And this is just the beginning.

Things that I miss from the Mac Office 2004 version is the right panel
palettes akin to Adobe software. Since our screens are wider than they
are high and since Word and PPT docs seem to be vertically focused,
using this right space seemed to work better than the ribbon. But since
Excel is more horizontal than vertical and PPT can be horizontal in
nature I can see that if I had to choose a vertical or a horizontal
approach I may go with the horizontal one. Also, if I want to have
multiple word docs open (something very common) the extra horizontal
space in the vertical approach goes away and it would be better to use
the height.

Over all, licensing aside, I really like the new version of Office. It
is a bold move for a company that has been locked with its legacy for
way too long in the Windows space. They did 1000's of hours of research
for this project, and I wouldn't want to be so quip with snubbing it out
of hand.

-- dave

--
--
David Malouf
dave at ixda.org
http://ixda.org/

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28 Nov 2006 - 1:49pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Just go to Jensen Harris' blog. His detailed accounts are quite good. There is also a BayCHI presentation he did that is available there.
I don't have the direct links available, but both of these should be pretty easy to find.

-- dave

From: Wilson, Russell[mailto:Russell.Wilson at netqos.com]

Can you share any links to the published detail on the
research they conducted?

28 Nov 2006 - 2:10pm
dmitryn
2004

Russ,

Here is a link to a fairly detailed presentation Jensen did here in
Vancouver (probably similar to the BayCHI talk Dave referred to):

http://www.vanue.com/2006/03/20/beyond-menus-and-toolbars-in-microsoft-office/

Dmitry

On 11/28/06, Wilson, Russell <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
> Dave,
>
> Can you share any links to the published detail on the
> research they conducted?
>
> Fwiw, and maybe because I haven't moved through the learning
> curve yet, I hate the ribbon... (but appreciate the other
> improvements)
>
> Thanks,
> Russ
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
> [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
> David Malouf
> Sent: Tuesday, November 28, 2006 11:48 AM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Critiquing the Office 2007 (was Re: Microsoft to
> license Office 2007 UI system)
>
>
> Todd Zaki Warfel wrote:
>
> > Whereas web-based apps are starting to look and perform more and more
> > like desktop applications, this is going the other direction - a
> > desktop app looking like and operating like a web-app. It's just
> > another case of MS throwing everything including the Kitchen sink at
> > the display.
> >
> > Just because you have more pixels doesn't mean you should use them.
> >
> > When will they learn?
> >
>
> Todd, I find the above critique to be very surface.
>
> There is a lot of published detail that is quite convincing about how
> they came to this design and what problems they are hoping to solve from
> earlier Office designs.
>
> Also, I don't find this very "webby" at all except to say that "webby"
> means conventionless and this being a new convention without a lot of
> precident would confirm that.
>
> Lastly, the ribbon is only a small part of the changes they've done to
> office and to look at the Ribbon as the only major change to me feels
> also very surface as a critique.
>
> My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few months
> now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very sound.
>
> 1. See before you do is REALLY helpful.
> 2. The tabs and associated ribbon as a way of presenting things in a
> more discoverable fashion does work over time. It has a learning curve,
> but that curve definitely pays off.
> 3. text formatting widgets as overlay within the text editing space is
> GREAT! No longer having to go "all the way" back to the top for the
> toolbar to do things like bullets and alignment and other primary
> formatting changes is brilliant.
>
> And this is just the beginning.
>
> Things that I miss from the Mac Office 2004 version is the right panel
> palettes akin to Adobe software. Since our screens are wider than they
> are high and since Word and PPT docs seem to be vertically focused,
> using this right space seemed to work better than the ribbon. But since
> Excel is more horizontal than vertical and PPT can be horizontal in
> nature I can see that if I had to choose a vertical or a horizontal
> approach I may go with the horizontal one. Also, if I want to have
> multiple word docs open (something very common) the extra horizontal
> space in the vertical approach goes away and it would be better to use
> the height.
>
> Over all, licensing aside, I really like the new version of Office. It
> is a bold move for a company that has been locked with its legacy for
> way too long in the Windows space. They did 1000's of hours of research
> for this project, and I wouldn't want to be so quip with snubbing it out
> of hand.
>
> -- dave
>
>
> --
> --
> David Malouf
> dave at ixda.org
> http://ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org List Guidelines
> ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/ List Help ..................
> http://listhelp.ixda.org/ (Un)Subscription Options ...
> http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org Home .......................
> http://ixda.org/ Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
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>

28 Nov 2006 - 2:09pm
Dan Saffer
2003

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the Office
2007 reboot is probably the best interaction design work to come out
of Microsoft in a long while. It's certainly the most major refresh
of a major software suite since...well, I don't recall. If you look
at the design decisions that were made--and HOW and WHY they were
made--it's pretty impressive. Jensen Harris's blog is required
reading on the subject, and should probably be required reading for
all interaction designers:

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/tags/Ribbon/All+Office+2007+UI
+Posts/default.aspx

http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/11/10/the-office-2007-ui-
bible.aspx

The Ribbon is really only a part of the overhaul--supposedly there
are some 1000 updates. What I think is really interesting is that
they've borrowed paradigms from both desktop and online in the
design, as well as creating new ones.

There is definitely going to be a learning curve and what I call
"redesign reorientation," especially for power users. But the
tradeoffs are probably going to be well worth it.

As a community, we've bitched about the design of Word and such for
years. They finally did something about it--something radical,
nonetheless. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

Dan

Dan Saffer, IDSA
http://www.designingforinteraction.com book | work http://
www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.noideasbutinthings.com project | site http://
www.odannyboy.com

28 Nov 2006 - 3:41pm
Todd Warfel
2003

On Nov 28, 2006, at 2:09 PM, Dan Saffer wrote:

> I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I think the Office
> 2007 reboot is probably the best interaction design work to come
> out of Microsoft in a long while. It's certainly the most major
> refresh of a major software suite since...well, I don't recall. If
> you look at the design decisions that were made--and HOW and WHY
> they were made--it's pretty impressive. Jensen Harris's blog is
> required reading on the subject, and should probably be required
> reading for all interaction designers:

Thanks for the links, Dan. Harris has some interesting things on his
blog, both from him and the readers. Responses, as you can expect,
are both positive and negative.

Harris points out that the Ribbon in Word '07 only takes up 135
pixels, whereas past versions took up 140-143 pixels. Unless he's
turning all the toolbars on, 2000 and 2003 don't take up 140-143
pixels in height. However, shouldn't they be measuring which toolbars
people actually use? Making a decision based on "maximum exposure"
when 90% aren't using it in that mode seems flawed. Now, if 90% are
using it with all toolbars turned on and at the top instead of using
a mix of top toolbars and palettes at the side, then I'll shut up.
But I doubt that's the case. Just look at the responses on his blog,
or wonder around your favorite corporate office building using MS
Office.

One of the readers comments: "Looking pretty doesn't get the job
done. Just because the interface stays as clean as it was on day one
doesn't make it efficient. Add my voice to Stephen, et al. Losing the
ability to customize the ribbon and tear off menus and tools is
degrading my productivity. "

I concur with this concern.

On the flip side, the appearance of a contextual formatting menu
right by the selected text is definitely an interaction improvement.
That's a more companies should follow.

One of the other comments on his blog that aligns with my earlier
stated concern about the height of the ribbon:
I think that one of the more efficient windows setups involves
sticking the taskbar on the right edge of the screen. This is
because typical monitors are "wider" than they are tall. When I am
viewing a word document, I already have enough width, but i can
always user more height. Additionally, you can fit more "task-bar-
buttons" (ie: programs) on the taskbar when it is on the right, and
still see some of the text/program description (not just the icon).

Again, I just think the ribbon itself is a bad model - emphasize
everything and you emphasize nothing. There other models in Office
'07 that are good and should be followed by others (e.g. the
contextual formatting menus close to selected text). But that ribbon
is very prevalent, which makes it difficult to overlook.

Harris comments in several places on his blog, as does several of the
readers "I've been using it for several months now and I'm finally
confident we have the right design."

I'd hope that adoption and adaption doesn't take several months.
Isn't a better goal to be within minutes or days? Yes, as with any
major shift, there is some time required to adjust. But that time
should be a minimum.

So, congrats for contextual menus MS Office team, but that ribbon is
an eyesore - keep working on that one.

Cheers!

Todd Zaki Warfel
Partner, Design & Usability Specialist
Messagefirst | designing and usability consulting
--------------------------------------
Contact Info
Voice: (215) 825-7423
Email: todd at messagefirst.com
AIM: twarfel at mac.com
Blog: http://toddwarfel.com
--------------------------------------
In theory, theory and practice are the same.
In practice, they are not.

29 Nov 2006 - 9:29am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 28 Nov 2006, at 17:48, David Malouf wrote:
[snip]
> My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few
> months
> now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very
> sound.
[snip]

Ditto. While it's not something aimed at me it's the first MS product
UI (that's come out of MS rather than being a bought-in product) that
actually feels designed.

Adrian

29 Nov 2006 - 9:45am
John Gr√łtting
2006

A friend of mine at Microsoft who works on the UI team, explains that
they are slowly evolving their development process. Originally, the
applications were designed by software engineers and the UI people
basically added icons. Then, the UI team slowly got involved earlier
and had a greater influence on the features. In 2007 we see that
there are real "UI features". What I mean is that there are
interesting developments in the interface that are purely centered
around making life easier and not about adding functionality.

John Grøtting

Grøtting + Sauter
Barnerstr. 14B
22765 Hamburg
Germany

Tel +49.40.398.34342
SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
Fax +49.40.398.34340
Mobile +49.172.4246.976
www.g-s.de
g at g-s.de

Am 29.11.2006 um 15:29 schrieb Adrian Howard:

>
> On 28 Nov 2006, at 17:48, David Malouf wrote:
> [snip]
>> My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few
>> months
>> now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very
>> sound.
> [snip]
>
> Ditto. While it's not something aimed at me it's the first MS product
> UI (that's come out of MS rather than being a bought-in product) that
> actually feels designed.
>
> Adrian
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
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29 Nov 2006 - 11:12am
Robert Hoekman, Jr.
2005

Well said - this is exactly what I've been trying to accomplish at GoDaddy.

-r-

On 11/29/06, John Grøtting <g at g-s.de> wrote:
>
> A friend of mine at Microsoft who works on the UI team, explains that
> they are slowly evolving their development process. Originally, the
> applications were designed by software engineers and the UI people
> basically added icons. Then, the UI team slowly got involved earlier
> and had a greater influence on the features. In 2007 we see that
> there are real "UI features". What I mean is that there are
> interesting developments in the interface that are purely centered
> around making life easier and not about adding functionality.
>
> John Grøtting
>
> Grøtting + Sauter
> Barnerstr. 14B
> 22765 Hamburg
> Germany
>
> Tel +49.40.398.34342
> SkypeIn +1.818.574.8440
> Fax +49.40.398.34340
> Mobile +49.172.4246.976
> www.g-s.de
> g at g-s.de
>
>
> Am 29.11.2006 um 15:29 schrieb Adrian Howard:
>
> >
> > On 28 Nov 2006, at 17:48, David Malouf wrote:
> > [snip]
> >> My own take after using Office 2007 almost exclusively for a few
> >> months
> >> now is that while the beta was buggy the premises were very very
> >> sound.
> > [snip]
> >
> > Ditto. While it's not something aimed at me it's the first MS product
> > UI (that's come out of MS rather than being a bought-in product) that
> > actually feels designed.
> >
> > Adrian
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> > List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> > (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> > Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> > Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> > Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org

7 Dec 2006 - 10:32pm
Tom Corbett
2006

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to hear Gayna Williams, the Microsoft
User Research Director, discuss the user research methods that were used in
the development of Windows Vista. She made several points that are relevant
to the above thread.

Microsoft is an evolving organization:
Ms. Williams explained that in the early 90's Microsoft had a shrink-wrap
and ship culture, but the Internet changed that by improving feedback on
actual product use.

Innovative tools were developed to gain insight into the overall user
experience:
The Send-a-Smile tool allowed beta users to communicate in real time by
sending a happy face for a happy moment or a grumpy face for a grumpy
moment, plus comments.

The user research group bridged the gap between users and engineering teams:
In the process of performing tasks, users might interact with components
produced by several different engineering teams. When components did not
work together seamlessly, the research team worked with the engineering
teams to resolve problems. It helped that the engineering teams knew who
the personas were.

A specialized approach was developed for enterprise deployment:
The main question from enterprise users was "How will this impact
productivity?"
Microsoft responded with a framework that maps the path from training to
productivity, aiming to
(1) Raise awareness within a month to a week of deployment,
(2) Minimize disruption on the day of deployment,
(3) Gain productivity within a day to a month of deployment.

-Tom

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