Microsoft's Ribbon?

17 Sep 2007 - 12:16pm
6 years ago
53 replies
2256 reads
ldebett
2004

A while back, there was a lot of chatter about the MS Ribbon... but around
patenting issues. Since Office 2007 has been out for some time now, I'm
surprised that I haven't seen a whole lot of mention (or complaining!) about
this new paradigm here, considering MS has basically attempted to redefine
the desktop UI from the weathered (and tired?) pull-down menu method to a
whole new task-based "right tools at the right time" approach.

So...

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

Granted, it's a shift, and that requires learning. And learning is painful.
I'd like to hear about your usability concerns and examples from a
practitioner's perspective. (I'm less interested in hearing about how things
have been moved and you can't find things anymore because you're preaching
to the choir, sister, and it's inevitable with a new thing like this).

Personally, I'm struggling with the redundancy of panels from one tab to
another, but their inconsistency in location in each. My eye goes to the
spot I expect to see a tool (because that's where it lives in the Standard
Tab and I've come to expect it there), but it is instead somewhere else on
that panel. I'd almost prefer that tool to not be there at all to force me
to go back to Standard. I'm also concerned about the vertical space the
Ribbon takes up. Lots of valuable real estate. Word is the worst because I
need that space to write/read my doc. And hiding the tools is not the
answer.

Also, how do you think the rest of the software design/development world
will respond? Do you think other companies will adopt this (back to the
licensing/patenting thing)? Is it the "next big thing"? Do you think this
design could be successfully applied to other, more complicated, products?

~Lisa

Comments

17 Sep 2007 - 12:23pm
russwilson
2005

http://www.dexodesign.com/2007/08/why-microsofts-ribbon-sucks.html

:-)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Lisa deBettencourt
Sent: Monday, September 17, 2007 12:16 PM
To: IxDA Discuss
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

A while back, there was a lot of chatter about the MS Ribbon... but around
patenting issues. Since Office 2007 has been out for some time now, I'm
surprised that I haven't seen a whole lot of mention (or complaining!) about
this new paradigm here, considering MS has basically attempted to redefine
the desktop UI from the weathered (and tired?) pull-down menu method to a
whole new task-based "right tools at the right time" approach.

So...

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

Granted, it's a shift, and that requires learning. And learning is painful.
I'd like to hear about your usability concerns and examples from a
practitioner's perspective. (I'm less interested in hearing about how things
have been moved and you can't find things anymore because you're preaching
to the choir, sister, and it's inevitable with a new thing like this).

Personally, I'm struggling with the redundancy of panels from one tab to
another, but their inconsistency in location in each. My eye goes to the
spot I expect to see a tool (because that's where it lives in the Standard
Tab and I've come to expect it there), but it is instead somewhere else on
that panel. I'd almost prefer that tool to not be there at all to force me
to go back to Standard. I'm also concerned about the vertical space the
Ribbon takes up. Lots of valuable real estate. Word is the worst because I
need that space to write/read my doc. And hiding the tools is not the
answer.

Also, how do you think the rest of the software design/development world
will respond? Do you think other companies will adopt this (back to the
licensing/patenting thing)? Is it the "next big thing"? Do you think this
design could be successfully applied to other, more complicated, products?

~Lisa
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
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17 Sep 2007 - 3:07pm
Will Parker
2007

Warning - longish rant about Office tool design coming up. Leave now
if you're not interested.

On Sep 17, 2007, at 10:16 AM, Lisa deBettencourt wrote:

> ... MS has basically attempted to redefine
> the desktop UI from the weathered (and tired?) pull-down menu
> method to a
> whole new task-based "right tools at the right time" approach.
> ...

> Personally, I'm struggling with the redundancy of panels from one
> tab to
> another, but their inconsistency in location in each. My eye goes
> to the
> spot I expect to see a tool (because that's where it lives in the
> Standard
> Tab and I've come to expect it there), but it is instead somewhere
> else on
> that panel.

I have not had the opportunity to use Win Office 2007 -- I've got
Visio 2007 here, but it clearly isn't Ribbonish yet -- so I can't
speak directly to what's gone amiss with the tool layout in the
Ribbon, but I can speak to some of the design issues the Win Office
team had to address. I'll leave it to others to determine whether
they did a proper job or not.

Back in the day, I worked on the team that developed the Formatting
Palette for Mac Office 2004. (I'll refer to the feature as 'FP' from
now on.)

While it looks nothing like the Office 2007 Ribbon UI, the FP was a
forerunner for the Ribbon. It was an attempt to provide a fully
contextual set of tools, displaying only those that apply to the
current task and content, without locking the user out of task-
switching.

The secondary goal was to retire as many of Those Damned Toolbars(tm)
as possible, in order to give the customer more room to view their
documents.

One of the larger design problems was to compile the list of actions
that are applicable to a given content type or a given mix of content
types and then present the proper controls in some understandable
manner.

In initial designs, the lead PMs for each of the apps in the Mac
Office suite were given the responsibility for laying out the order
of tools in the palette, and there was even talk of letting the user
swap things around and even remove tools they deemed useless.
(Instant Cluster Fudge - now with Nuts!)

That idea was swiftly abandoned (luckily before either our usability
engineer or support liaison had a stroke!), and the designer came up
with the following vertical layout:

1. Object creation tools
2a. Formatting tools for content types common to all apps in the suite
2b. Formatting tools for content types specific to the current app.
3. Document-global tools (section minimized)
4. FP-specific display settings dead last

Section 2 tools are hidden until the user clicks on or creates
content on which the tools can act, and less-commonly-used tools are
minimized. Rarely-used functions were either left in the existing old-
school toolbars or moved to menu commands.

The important insight was that we needed to keep the globally useful
tools in the same location across the entire suite. Moreover, for a
given _type of content_, we had to arrange the globally useful tools
in the same order.

Minor app-specific layout changes within a given tool grouping were
allowed if the app's design team successfully argued that their users
needed a different emphasis. The changes that were allowed usually
came down to whether a particular grouping of tools was shown in
expanded or minimized mode.

(Of course, one of the Mac Office apps was built on a totally
different code base, and that team decided to opt out of the whole
Formatting Palette mess. One of those things you have to live with
when you're working on a suite of apps.)

> I'd almost prefer that tool to not be there at all to force me
> to go back to Standard. I'm also concerned about the vertical space
> the
> Ribbon takes up. Lots of valuable real estate. Word is the worst
> because I
> need that space to write/read my doc. And hiding the tools is not the
> answer.

A tertiary goal was to make use of the Formatting Palette as painless
as possible for long-time users of Mac Office, while still getting
them to migrate away from Those Damned Toolbars(tm). 'Less screen
space' is not part of 'as painless as possible', which is (I believe)
one reason why the Mac Office designers focused on a floating palette
instead of an embedded ribbon. Certainly every feature design that
proposed something similar was shot down in the early planning stages.

> Also, how do you think the rest of the software design/development
> world
> will respond? Do you think other companies will adopt this (back to
> the
> licensing/patenting thing)? Is it the "next big thing"? Do you
> think this
> design could be successfully applied to other, more complicated,
> products?

I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.

As for whether it can and should be applied to a given product, I
think the upper bound on contextual tool palette use is going to be
determined not by the complexity of the software, but specifically on
the complexity of the content the software is designed to handle, and
how many types of tools the user _is required to use_ in order to
adequately create and present that content.

At some point, you're back to Those Damned Toolbars(tm), only bigger
and more obtuse, and where's the Next Big Thing after that?

Whether you call them ribbons or palettes or contextual menus,
unified context-aware tool displays simply postpone the problem of
dealing with ever-more complex document editing tasks. Do we really
need to use a huge toolbox to carve out a usable, attractive and
persuasive document, line-by-line and curve-by-curve? An illuminated
manuscript can be a thing of beauty, but does the content really
require gold leaf and crushed amethyst?

For most document types and document uses, we need to start moving
the burden of tweaking structure and presentation off the shoulders
of the user so they can spend 90% of their time and attention on the
ideas they want to communicate.

We need to offer more intelligence in default layout and formatting.
We need to offer better automatic formatting of content based on
inferred document structure.

We need to stop worrying about user access to tools and start
thinking about the way we're forcing them to work.

-Will

Will Parker
wparker at channelingdesign.com

17 Sep 2007 - 3:22pm
SemanticWill
2007

I installed Office 2007.... waited 2 months..... and after pulling my hair
out because it truly requires a very different mental model - uninstalled
it. If I am using MS Word, and simply want to File>Save As - why did it take
me 5 minutes of searching to do the most mundane - no - stupid and simple of
operations because some whinnie at MS thought hiding important functions
behind a completely context-less - and meaningless windows logo was a good
idea? These are the most standard, common file management/document
management features - and you hid it from me - and I don't forgive you.

Phewww. That felt better.

Orthogonal to Will's rant is this. I received your email rant as plain text.
No formatting. You probably spent no time formatting it - yet it contained a
lot of useful, persuasive information. Maybe people spend so much time
worrying about font size and formatting because it's easier to play with
left align, then to actually create a cohesive, well-structured argument.

On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> Warning - longish rant about Office tool design coming up. Leave now
> if you're not interested.
>
> On Sep 17, 2007, at 10:16 AM, Lisa deBettencourt wrote:
>
> > ... MS has basically attempted to redefine
> > the desktop UI from the weathered (and tired?) pull-down menu
> > method to a
> > whole new task-based "right tools at the right time" approach.
> > ...
>
> > Personally, I'm struggling with the redundancy of panels from one
> > tab to
> > another, but their inconsistency in location in each. My eye goes
> > to the
> > spot I expect to see a tool (because that's where it lives in the
> > Standard
> > Tab and I've come to expect it there), but it is instead somewhere
> > else on
> > that panel.
>
> I have not had the opportunity to use Win Office 2007 -- I've got
> Visio 2007 here, but it clearly isn't Ribbonish yet -- so I can't
> speak directly to what's gone amiss with the tool layout in the
> Ribbon, but I can speak to some of the design issues the Win Office
> team had to address. I'll leave it to others to determine whether
> they did a proper job or not.
>
> Back in the day, I worked on the team that developed the Formatting
> Palette for Mac Office 2004. (I'll refer to the feature as 'FP' from
> now on.)
>
> While it looks nothing like the Office 2007 Ribbon UI, the FP was a
> forerunner for the Ribbon. It was an attempt to provide a fully
> contextual set of tools, displaying only those that apply to the
> current task and content, without locking the user out of task-
> switching.
>
> The secondary goal was to retire as many of Those Damned Toolbars(tm)
> as possible, in order to give the customer more room to view their
> documents.
>
> One of the larger design problems was to compile the list of actions
> that are applicable to a given content type or a given mix of content
> types and then present the proper controls in some understandable
> manner.
>
> In initial designs, the lead PMs for each of the apps in the Mac
> Office suite were given the responsibility for laying out the order
> of tools in the palette, and there was even talk of letting the user
> swap things around and even remove tools they deemed useless.
> (Instant Cluster Fudge - now with Nuts!)
>
> That idea was swiftly abandoned (luckily before either our usability
> engineer or support liaison had a stroke!), and the designer came up
> with the following vertical layout:
>
> 1. Object creation tools
> 2a. Formatting tools for content types common to all apps in the suite
> 2b. Formatting tools for content types specific to the current app.
> 3. Document-global tools (section minimized)
> 4. FP-specific display settings dead last
>
> Section 2 tools are hidden until the user clicks on or creates
> content on which the tools can act, and less-commonly-used tools are
> minimized. Rarely-used functions were either left in the existing old-
> school toolbars or moved to menu commands.
>
> The important insight was that we needed to keep the globally useful
> tools in the same location across the entire suite. Moreover, for a
> given _type of content_, we had to arrange the globally useful tools
> in the same order.
>
> Minor app-specific layout changes within a given tool grouping were
> allowed if the app's design team successfully argued that their users
> needed a different emphasis. The changes that were allowed usually
> came down to whether a particular grouping of tools was shown in
> expanded or minimized mode.
>
> (Of course, one of the Mac Office apps was built on a totally
> different code base, and that team decided to opt out of the whole
> Formatting Palette mess. One of those things you have to live with
> when you're working on a suite of apps.)
>
> > I'd almost prefer that tool to not be there at all to force me
> > to go back to Standard. I'm also concerned about the vertical space
> > the
> > Ribbon takes up. Lots of valuable real estate. Word is the worst
> > because I
> > need that space to write/read my doc. And hiding the tools is not the
> > answer.
>
> A tertiary goal was to make use of the Formatting Palette as painless
> as possible for long-time users of Mac Office, while still getting
> them to migrate away from Those Damned Toolbars(tm). 'Less screen
> space' is not part of 'as painless as possible', which is (I believe)
> one reason why the Mac Office designers focused on a floating palette
> instead of an embedded ribbon. Certainly every feature design that
> proposed something similar was shot down in the early planning stages.
>
> > Also, how do you think the rest of the software design/development
> > world
> > will respond? Do you think other companies will adopt this (back to
> > the
> > licensing/patenting thing)? Is it the "next big thing"? Do you
> > think this
> > design could be successfully applied to other, more complicated,
> > products?
>
> I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
> play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
> spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.
>
> As for whether it can and should be applied to a given product, I
> think the upper bound on contextual tool palette use is going to be
> determined not by the complexity of the software, but specifically on
> the complexity of the content the software is designed to handle, and
> how many types of tools the user _is required to use_ in order to
> adequately create and present that content.
>
> At some point, you're back to Those Damned Toolbars(tm), only bigger
> and more obtuse, and where's the Next Big Thing after that?
>
> Whether you call them ribbons or palettes or contextual menus,
> unified context-aware tool displays simply postpone the problem of
> dealing with ever-more complex document editing tasks. Do we really
> need to use a huge toolbox to carve out a usable, attractive and
> persuasive document, line-by-line and curve-by-curve? An illuminated
> manuscript can be a thing of beauty, but does the content really
> require gold leaf and crushed amethyst?
>
> For most document types and document uses, we need to start moving
> the burden of tweaking structure and presentation off the shoulders
> of the user so they can spend 90% of their time and attention on the
> ideas they want to communicate.
>
> We need to offer more intelligence in default layout and formatting.
> We need to offer better automatic formatting of content based on
> inferred document structure.
>
> We need to stop worrying about user access to tools and start
> thinking about the way we're forcing them to work.
>
> -Will
>
> Will Parker
> wparker at channelingdesign.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

17 Sep 2007 - 4:28pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 17, 2007, at 1:22 PM, W Evans wrote:

> ...These are the most standard, common file management/document
> management features - and you hid it from me - and I don't forgive
> you.

OUCH. I had heard it was a bad experience, but I hadn't realized it
was unforgivably bad. That actually sounds like a *good* reason for
an interaction designer to have Office 07 installed. Anti-patterns
can be as useful as regular patterns.

> Orthogonal to Will's rant is this. I received your email rant as
> plain text. No formatting.

No, actually I used plain-text formatting: asterisks for bold and
leading/trailing underscores for italics. My fondest wish is for
email clients to render those two markup signs as actual bold and
italic.

> You probably spent no time formatting it - yet it contained a lot
> of useful, persuasive information.

Lot's of time editing for meaning, and zip on visual formatting -
although I'd really prefer that you see it rendered in the original
Myriad Pro Roman 14pt, because then it really _glows_.

> Maybe people spend so much time worrying about font size and
> formatting because it's easier to play with left align, then to
> actually create a cohesive, well-structured argument.

Anyone who's read Tufte's work knows that those who can write, do,
and those who can't, format. Searching for and failing to grasp
logical structure, they attempt to impose it by visual means.

There's a time to do formatting, and that's *after* you've finished
writing. So why do software designers keep pushing formatting tools
to the foreground?

======
BTW, did you just publicly accuse me of uttering a cohesive, well-
structured argument? Clearly, you don't know who you're dealing with.

-Will
Will Parker
wparker at channelingdesign.com

17 Sep 2007 - 5:06pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Will has inquired:
"So why do software designers keep pushing formatting tools to the
foreground?"

1. The "usefulness" of the resulting software is immediately obvious to
those, who "search for and fail to grasp logical [systemic - OK] structure"
of the product?
2. What software designer has *time*, resources, skills and motivation to
justify the systemic approach to design? Hm... perhaps a
dedicated Interaction Designer?

Oleh

On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> On Sep 17, 2007, at 1:22 PM, W Evans wrote:
>
> > ...These are the most standard, common file management/document
> > management features - and you hid it from me - and I don't forgive
> > you.
>
> OUCH. I had heard it was a bad experience, but I hadn't realized it
> was unforgivably bad. That actually sounds like a *good* reason for
> an interaction designer to have Office 07 installed. Anti-patterns
> can be as useful as regular patterns.
>
> > Orthogonal to Will's rant is this. I received your email rant as
> > plain text. No formatting.
>
> No, actually I used plain-text formatting: asterisks for bold and
> leading/trailing underscores for italics. My fondest wish is for
> email clients to render those two markup signs as actual bold and
> italic.
>
> > You probably spent no time formatting it - yet it contained a lot
> > of useful, persuasive information.
>
> Lot's of time editing for meaning, and zip on visual formatting -
> although I'd really prefer that you see it rendered in the original
> Myriad Pro Roman 14pt, because then it really _glows_.
>
> > Maybe people spend so much time worrying about font size and
> > formatting because it's easier to play with left align, then to
> > actually create a cohesive, well-structured argument.
>
> Anyone who's read Tufte's work knows that those who can write, do,
> and those who can't, format. Searching for and failing to grasp
> logical structure, they attempt to impose it by visual means.
>
> There's a time to do formatting, and that's *after* you've finished
> writing. So why do software designers keep pushing formatting tools
> to the foreground?
>
> ======
> BTW, did you just publicly accuse me of uttering a cohesive, well-
> structured argument? Clearly, you don't know who you're dealing with.
>
> -Will
> Will Parker
> wparker at channelingdesign.com
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is the Design of Time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

17 Sep 2007 - 6:39pm
SemanticWill
2007

As a followup to my completely off the handle rant about Office 07 - perhaps
it's important to give some context. I approach MS Office products as a user
attempting to accomplish certain clearly defined goals within a context.
Those goals include:
1. Writing a cohesive user requirements document
2. Creating a logical, well structured UI design specification document that
developers can use to build applications.
3. Create well formated user persona documents to present to stakeholders
including marketing, sales, product management and development.

My goals, attitudes, and expectations do not include learning a new
interface paradigm from a text editing application. I just need to write,
and then later - format. If I approached with a completely different set of
expectations - to learn, explore, play -- I would have had a very different
user experience with Office 07. I think HFE and Cog Sci people with research
backgrounds will appreciate that as IxD people we are expected to understand
what "mode" users are in, and what prejudices and expectations they bring to
an interaction with a product - and then design with empathy towards those
attitudes and behaviors. Why do people argue for contextual inquiry? To do
exactly this - understand the complete picture of the user's context.

And as a final note in my epic saga with Office 07 - I had to reinstall it
right before leaving work this evening. I actually have to learn this Ribbon
stuff because we are looking at 3rd party C# components - including the use
of ribbons, so now I have to do this again. This time, not as a user
intending to actually do work - like write documents, but in the posture as
an IxD geek that needs to really grasp the benefits and weaknesses of
Ribbons for accomplishing certain user commands and actions.

Ironic - don't you all think? Maybe if I didn't write the previous rant - I
would not have had to now reinstall Office07.

-Will

On 9/17/07, Oleh Kovalchuke <tangospring at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Will has inquired:
> "So why do software designers keep pushing formatting tools to the
> foreground?"
>
> 1. The "usefulness" of the resulting software is immediately obvious to
> those, who "search for and fail to grasp logical [systemic - OK] structure"
> of the product?
> 2. What software designer has *time*, resources, skills and motivation to
> justify the systemic approach to design? Hm... perhaps a
> dedicated Interaction Designer?
>
> Oleh
>
>
> On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> > On Sep 17, 2007, at 1:22 PM, W Evans wrote:
> >
> > > ...These are the most standard, common file management/document
> > > management features - and you hid it from me - and I don't forgive
> > > you.
> >
> > OUCH. I had heard it was a bad experience, but I hadn't realized it
> > was unforgivably bad. That actually sounds like a *good* reason for
> > an interaction designer to have Office 07 installed. Anti-patterns
> > can be as useful as regular patterns.
> >
> > > Orthogonal to Will's rant is this. I received your email rant as
> > > plain text. No formatting.
> >
> > No, actually I used plain-text formatting: asterisks for bold and
> > leading/trailing underscores for italics. My fondest wish is for
> > email clients to render those two markup signs as actual bold and
> > italic.
> >
> > > You probably spent no time formatting it - yet it contained a lot
> > > of useful, persuasive information.
> >
> > Lot's of time editing for meaning, and zip on visual formatting -
> > although I'd really prefer that you see it rendered in the original
> > Myriad Pro Roman 14pt, because then it really _glows_.
> >
> > > Maybe people spend so much time worrying about font size and
> > > formatting because it's easier to play with left align, then to
> > > actually create a cohesive, well-structured argument.
> >
> > Anyone who's read Tufte's work knows that those who can write, do,
> > and those who can't, format. Searching for and failing to grasp
> > logical structure, they attempt to impose it by visual means.
> >
> > There's a time to do formatting, and that's *after* you've finished
> > writing. So why do software designers keep pushing formatting tools
> > to the foreground?
> >
> > ======
> > BTW, did you just publicly accuse me of uttering a cohesive, well-
> > structured argument? Clearly, you don't know who you're dealing with.
> >
> > -Will
> > Will Parker
> > wparker at channelingdesign.com
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Oleh Kovalchuke
> Interaction Design is the Design of Time
> http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

c

17 Sep 2007 - 9:43pm
Dante Murphy
2006

If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.

It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use it.

Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.

Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted scenario.

I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.

Dante

________________________________

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

17 Sep 2007 - 10:02pm
Dave Malouf
2005

Lisa, I really like Office 2007 and miss (had to leave it behind when
I moved to Moto in November). I find the ribbon itself to be a much
better layout and interaction model than toolbars and menubars. Much
more useful. i also like how they operate differently from panels
which is the Mac Office version.

Now, I understand the big complaints, but for me I was able to get
past it, and really was able to fit Office 2007 to my needs. I love
how you can even make it set to save as Offcie 2003 formatting so you
can use it completely in an Office 2003 environment but gain all the
GUI advantages (and I believe there are many) that are in Office
2007.

-- dave

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the improved ixda.org
http://beta.ixda.org/discuss?post=20543

17 Sep 2007 - 11:12pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

I'd really suggest looking at OpenOffice. I've been using it at home and it fulfills all my needs. For something that is open source, the feature set is pretty impressive and I think that the UI is very comparable to Microsoft Office 2003.

Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote: If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.

It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use it.

Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.

Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted scenario.

I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.

Dante

________________________________

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

17 Sep 2007 - 11:59pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Oh, that's easy...it happens all the time. Half of us would be working as waiters or bus drivers if it didn't.

Without intending to offend anyone who has worked on these software platforms, I can list SAP, PeopleSoft, and the Palm OS as examples of miraculously bad interaction design (in one release or another) with no constraints of available dollars or resources. Or maybe that's naive...maybe the constraints were perceived to be greater than the need for design adequacy.

Anyway, I'm dropping 70 hours a week for 6 weeks on an SAP interface that can't manage to keep the label of the same data element consistent, that returns error messages like "at least one item on the list is faulty", and that probably cost the client several million dollars for the pleasure of spending 6 months to customize it.

In this case, I think the reason is that the buyer is not the user...that old "people don't eat the dog food they buy" maxim. Can't say what went wrong with the interface on my Treo...why do I have to switch from stylus to keyboard to edit a contact?

Anyway, I'm sure I'll insult someone without meaning to if I keep throwing darts at well-funded initiatives, so I'll stop now. But it happens every day...twice on Tuesdays.

________________________________

From: Mike Scarpiello [mailto:mscarpiello at gmail.com]
Sent: Mon 9/17/2007 10:52 PM
To: Dante Murphy
Cc: Lisa deBettencourt; discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited money and (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad product?

On 9/17/07, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote:

If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.

It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use it.

Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.

Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted scenario.

I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.

Dante

________________________________

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
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17 Sep 2007 - 11:59pm
Dante Murphy
2006

Good suggestion...maybe I'll have the good sense to follow it, if I remember.

I wish there was a "what not to wear" reality show for software. If anyone is casting for one, call me!

________________________________

From: erpdesigner [mailto:erpdesigner at yahoo.com]
Sent: Tue 9/18/2007 12:12 AM
To: Dante Murphy; Lisa deBettencourt
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I'd really suggest looking at OpenOffice. I've been using it at home and it fulfills all my needs. For something that is open source, the feature set is pretty impressive and I think that the UI is very comparable to Microsoft Office 2003.

Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote:

If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.

It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use it.

Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.

Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted scenario.

I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.

Dante

________________________________

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

18 Sep 2007 - 1:48am
Wendy Fischer
2004

I keep wanting to see when "Top Interaction Designer" appears on BravoTV......ah, just a dream.

-Wendy

Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote: Good suggestion...maybe I'll have the good sense to follow it, if I remember.

I wish there was a "what not to wear" reality show for software. If anyone is casting for one, call me!

________________________________

From: erpdesigner [mailto:erpdesigner at yahoo.com]
Sent: Tue 9/18/2007 12:12 AM
To: Dante Murphy; Lisa deBettencourt
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I'd really suggest looking at OpenOffice. I've been using it at home and it fulfills all my needs. For something that is open source, the feature set is pretty impressive and I think that the UI is very comparable to Microsoft Office 2003.

Dante Murphy wrote:

If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.

It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use it.

Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.

Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted scenario.

I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.

Dante

________________________________

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
Office products.

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

17 Sep 2007 - 9:52pm
Anonymous

Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited money and
(UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad product?

On 9/17/07, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote:
>
> If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting victim of
> my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.
>
> It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS Word (my
> wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent placement, the
> clear failure to understand that many people like to print and save
> documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever shipped. And
> I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least I could use
> it.
>
> Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference in
> Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most
> proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that
> and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an
> improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall
> which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.
>
> Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a conference, you
> have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your cscripted
> scenario.
>
> I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software licenses had
> lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS but only 2007
> was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and buy my wife a
> new Mac for Christmas.
>
> Dante
>
> ________________________________
>
>
> I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in various
> Office products.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

18 Sep 2007 - 6:23am
SemanticWill
2007

As to Peoplesoft - the only one I have experience with - they very cleary
did not employ an IA, or - if they did, the IA did not do a reverse card
sort when creating the navigation structure and labels for anything in the
application. Not only are inconsistencies rife throughout - many of the
navigation labels to kick off particular task flows are things that no human
that lives anywhere outside of the ERP business - would understand what was
happening and what things did. They broke the cardinal rule "YOU ARE NOT
YOUR USER" and thought that all their customers know all the special terms
and inside lingo of the erp business. Guess what? We don't.

On 9/18/07, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote:
>
> Oh, that's easy...it happens all the time. Half of us would be working as
> waiters or bus drivers if it didn't.
>
> Without intending to offend anyone who has worked on these software
> platforms, I can list SAP, PeopleSoft, and the Palm OS as examples of
> miraculously bad interaction design (in one release or another) with no
> constraints of available dollars or resources. Or maybe that's
> naive...maybe the constraints were perceived to be greater than the need for
> design adequacy.
>
> Anyway, I'm dropping 70 hours a week for 6 weeks on an SAP interface that
> can't manage to keep the label of the same data element consistent, that
> returns error messages like "at least one item on the list is faulty", and
> that probably cost the client several million dollars for the pleasure of
> spending 6 months to customize it.
>
> In this case, I think the reason is that the buyer is not the user...that
> old "people don't eat the dog food they buy" maxim. Can't say what went
> wrong with the interface on my Treo...why do I have to switch from stylus to
> keyboard to edit a contact?
>
> Anyway, I'm sure I'll insult someone without meaning to if I keep throwing
> darts at well-funded initiatives, so I'll stop now. But it happens every
> day...twice on Tuesdays.
>
> ________________________________
>
> From: Mike Scarpiello [mailto:mscarpiello at gmail.com]
> Sent: Mon 9/17/2007 10:52 PM
> To: Dante Murphy
> Cc: Lisa deBettencourt; discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
>
> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited money and
> (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad product?
>
>
> On 9/17/07, Dante Murphy <dmurphy at digitashealth.com> wrote:
>
> If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting
> victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.
>
> It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS
> Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent
> placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print
> and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever
> shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least
> I could use it.
>
> Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference
> in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most
> proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that
> and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an
> improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall
> which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.
>
> Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a
> conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your
> cscripted scenario.
>
> I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software
> licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS
> but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and
> buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.
>
> Dante
>
> ________________________________
>
>
> I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in
> various
> Office products.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org <
> http://beta.ixda.org/>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 6:34am
AlokJain
2006

I think it's mainly Leadership - the kind of leadership focus apple
has on user experience (not just usability) is incomparable. I have
spoken to some people behind MS Office 2007, needless to say very
talented people . it's really direction which I think has not pushed
the product enough which I think is also related to process and org
structure.

I do however think that the intention is good behind Office 2007, it
significantly cut down the number of features in order to simplify
the experience. It has also taken bold steps to fundamentally change
the model (good or bad). It's not easy to do that with such a core
product. It would be interesting to see next iteration and what MS
learns from such feedback.

Cheers
AJ

On Sep 17, 2007, at 10:52 PM, Mike Scarpiello wrote:

> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited
> money and
> (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad
> product?

18 Sep 2007 - 8:58am
Jeff Stevenson
2007

I can attest to at least one instance of what Will described. I used to work
for a small software company that is all but married to Microsoft, and they
decided to redesign their software with a Ribbon interface. This was not,
unfortunately, a decision born out of their desire for a better UI, but a
decision born out of a desire to be like Microsoft.

The fortunate result was that I got to spend a lot of time reading Jenson
Harrison's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/default.aspx) and reverse
engineering the usability principles behind the ribbon. In theory, I think
the ribbon is a very clever and well thought out interface. But in reality,
convention trumps clever ideas. So I'm certain that most long-time Office
users are more frustrated with the changes than they are pleased with the
new innovations.

It would be very interesting to do some usability comparisons of Office 2007
and Office 2003 on brand new Office users (if any exist out there). Maybe
the UI would seem better if users were not already used to something else?

Someone else mentioned that it seems like the ribbon takes up a lot of
vertical screen real estate. I agree this certainly seems true, but Jenson
addressed this in an interesting blog post:
<http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/17/577485.aspx>

Also, you can always minimize the ribbon if you want more space for your
documents.

After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon UI, I
expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but eventually
come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
differently to increase user acceptance.

Jeff

On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:

> I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
> play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
> spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.
>

18 Sep 2007 - 9:46am
Chris Bernard
2007

I did a talk on all this stuff back in January that folks can watch here:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/f/f/1fff960f-51a2-44b1-b033-bf25a3c7c7ab/BRE001.wmv

Those of you familiar with Jensen's blog will find much of the content familiar. I've provided some context on Office below for folks that are interested.

It will tell you exactly how a company with 'unlimited' resources and money goes about redesigning an interface. And of course statements like this are silly as NO company, not even Microsoft can approach projects from this perspective. But it will give you insights into the design decisions a company makes, and how they can make them, when it's a product that involves hundreds of millions of users (350 million to 500 million depending on who is counting).

I'll summarize by saying the Office 2007 is far from perfect (The Orb and it's hidden goodness perhaps being its signature failing). But all in all when you look at the customer scenarios that Office has to fulfill I would call our redesign a stunning success. It makes it far easier for existing users to create more polished documents quickly and it's a much easier interface for new users to pick up (and our benchmark and longitudnal testing bear this out anecdotes aside). In fact I'd be hard pressed to name one single example of where a company is taking a bigger chance on user experience than with Office. SAP is trying and we'll start seeing the fruits of their labor soon and I would submit that going from OS9 to OSX was a huge change for many. We must all still know a few of those holdouts banging things out in Quark on OS9. :)

The problem with Office 2007 is the same problem a lot of big applications and productivity suites have, be they Adobe Creative Suite, PeopleSoft, SAP, Sharepoint, etc. in that they are designed to do everything well and often do most of it poorly or require a very advanced learning curve (Imagine sitting down in front of Photoshop or InDesign for the first time. These are complex applications but I've been using them for 18 years so I don't even notice anymore).

The Ribbon got Office steered in the right direction but it is of course a journey. But it's also an opportunity and it's why we see the success of niche products like Basecamp or even Apple's collection of Pages, Keynote and Numbers that are fantastically useful for many folks.

I'd be curious to hear from folks that want to learn more about Office. Watch my talk and tell me what you would have done differently from a design process. Share it here.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
Community: http://www.visitmix.com

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff Stevenson
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 8:58 AM
To: Lisa deBettencourt
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I can attest to at least one instance of what Will described. I used to work
for a small software company that is all but married to Microsoft, and they
decided to redesign their software with a Ribbon interface. This was not,
unfortunately, a decision born out of their desire for a better UI, but a
decision born out of a desire to be like Microsoft.

The fortunate result was that I got to spend a lot of time reading Jenson
Harrison's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/default.aspx) and reverse
engineering the usability principles behind the ribbon. In theory, I think
the ribbon is a very clever and well thought out interface. But in reality,
convention trumps clever ideas. So I'm certain that most long-time Office
users are more frustrated with the changes than they are pleased with the
new innovations.

It would be very interesting to do some usability comparisons of Office 2007
and Office 2003 on brand new Office users (if any exist out there). Maybe
the UI would seem better if users were not already used to something else?

Someone else mentioned that it seems like the ribbon takes up a lot of
vertical screen real estate. I agree this certainly seems true, but Jenson
addressed this in an interesting blog post:
<http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/17/577485.aspx>

Also, you can always minimize the ribbon if you want more space for your
documents.

After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon UI, I
expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but eventually
come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
differently to increase user acceptance.

Jeff

On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:

> I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
> play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
> spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.
>
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

18 Sep 2007 - 9:50am
Dante Murphy
2006

<snip>

It would be very interesting to do some usability comparisons of Office 2007
and Office 2003 on brand new Office users (if any exist out there). Maybe
the UI would seem better if users were not already used to something else?

</snip>

I think tis is the essence of the problem, and a potentially fatal flaw of purely task-oriented design. "Genius" design is also susceptible. You don't have to be user-centered, but you do have to be at least minimally user-aware.

Dante

18 Sep 2007 - 10:07am
SemanticWill
2007

Thanks for the response Chris. As I noted late last evening - for various
reasons, after my rant - it became readily apparent that I can't be
stubborn, and in fact had no choice but to switch to Office 07 as of this
morning at 9am. Given resignation and no choice - I will keep track of my
thoughts and impressions - although this time I will be far more open minded
- even if all the most standard document management functions were hidden
behind a non-obvious unlabeled branding icon.

First thought - Outlook 07 is a far more elegant UI than Outlook 03.

On 9/18/07, Chris Bernard <Chris.Bernard at microsoft.com> wrote:
>
> I did a talk on all this stuff back in January that folks can watch here:
>
>
> http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/f/f/1fff960f-51a2-44b1-b033-bf25a3c7c7ab/BRE001.wmv
>
> Those of you familiar with Jensen's blog will find much of the content
> familiar. I've provided some context on Office below for folks that are
> interested.
>
> It will tell you exactly how a company with 'unlimited' resources and
> money goes about redesigning an interface. And of course statements like
> this are silly as NO company, not even Microsoft can approach projects from
> this perspective. But it will give you insights into the design decisions a
> company makes, and how they can make them, when it's a product that involves
> hundreds of millions of users (350 million to 500 million depending on who
> is counting).
>
> I'll summarize by saying the Office 2007 is far from perfect (The Orb and
> it's hidden goodness perhaps being its signature failing). But all in all
> when you look at the customer scenarios that Office has to fulfill I would
> call our redesign a stunning success. It makes it far easier for existing
> users to create more polished documents quickly and it's a much easier
> interface for new users to pick up (and our benchmark and longitudnal
> testing bear this out anecdotes aside). In fact I'd be hard pressed to name
> one single example of where a company is taking a bigger chance on user
> experience than with Office. SAP is trying and we'll start seeing the fruits
> of their labor soon and I would submit that going from OS9 to OSX was a huge
> change for many. We must all still know a few of those holdouts banging
> things out in Quark on OS9. :)
>
> The problem with Office 2007 is the same problem a lot of big applications
> and productivity suites have, be they Adobe Creative Suite, PeopleSoft, SAP,
> Sharepoint, etc. in that they are designed to do everything well and often
> do most of it poorly or require a very advanced learning curve (Imagine
> sitting down in front of Photoshop or InDesign for the first time. These are
> complex applications but I've been using them for 18 years so I don't even
> notice anymore).
>
> The Ribbon got Office steered in the right direction but it is of course a
> journey. But it's also an opportunity and it's why we see the success of
> niche products like Basecamp or even Apple's collection of Pages, Keynote
> and Numbers that are fantastically useful for many folks.
>
> I'd be curious to hear from folks that want to learn more about Office.
> Watch my talk and tell me what you would have done differently from a design
> process. Share it here.
>
> Chris Bernard
> Microsoft
> User Experience Evangelist
> chris.bernard at microsoft.com
> 630.530.4208 Office
> 312.925.4095 Mobile
>
>
>
> Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
> Design: www.microsoft.com/design
> Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
> Community: http://www.visitmix.com
>
> "The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William
> Gibson
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:
> discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff
> Stevenson
> Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 8:58 AM
> To: Lisa deBettencourt
> Cc: IxDA Discuss
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
> I can attest to at least one instance of what Will described. I used to
> work
> for a small software company that is all but married to Microsoft, and
> they
> decided to redesign their software with a Ribbon interface. This was not,
> unfortunately, a decision born out of their desire for a better UI, but a
> decision born out of a desire to be like Microsoft.
>
> The fortunate result was that I got to spend a lot of time reading Jenson
> Harrison's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/default.aspx) and reverse
> engineering the usability principles behind the ribbon. In theory, I think
> the ribbon is a very clever and well thought out interface. But in
> reality,
> convention trumps clever ideas. So I'm certain that most long-time Office
> users are more frustrated with the changes than they are pleased with the
> new innovations.
>
> It would be very interesting to do some usability comparisons of Office
> 2007
> and Office 2003 on brand new Office users (if any exist out there). Maybe
> the UI would seem better if users were not already used to something else?
>
> Someone else mentioned that it seems like the ribbon takes up a lot of
> vertical screen real estate. I agree this certainly seems true, but Jenson
> addressed this in an interesting blog post:
> <http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/17/577485.aspx>
>
> Also, you can always minimize the ribbon if you want more space for your
> documents.
>
> After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon UI, I
> expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but
> eventually
> come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
> perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
> differently to increase user acceptance.
>
> Jeff
>
>
> On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> > I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
> > play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
> > spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 1:24pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 17, 2007, at 7:52 PM, Mike Scarpiello wrote:

> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited
> money and
> (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad
> product?

I imagine the members of the Ford Edsel design team might have some
hindsight on that.

-Will

Will Parker
wparker at channelingdesign.com

18 Sep 2007 - 1:45pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 18, 2007, at 6:58 AM, Jeff Stevenson wrote:
> After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon
> UI, I
> expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but
> eventually
> come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
> perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
> differently to increase user acceptance.

It's largely a matter of user retraining, coupled with accommodation
of people who simply refuse to switch. The trick as performed by the
Mac Office team was to signal that things were changing over several
versions. Keep old methods in place while adding new (and presumably
better) ways to access similar functions, and wean users away moving
forward. Only after you've got the mass of your users migrated to the
new UI can you start rounding up the Luddites.

It comes down to this: Interface designers need to understand the
difference between a revolution and a coup d'etat.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

18 Sep 2007 - 2:16pm
russwilson
2005

I think it's more than just re-training. After months and months of using
the ribbon daily, there are several functions that are still not natural for
me (I have to figure out where they are each time).

That's a problem.

(and I don't think I'm the odd-person out)

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Will Parker
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 1:45 PM
To: Jeff Stevenson
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

On Sep 18, 2007, at 6:58 AM, Jeff Stevenson wrote:
> After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon
> UI, I
> expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but
> eventually
> come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
> perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
> differently to increase user acceptance.

It's largely a matter of user retraining, coupled with accommodation
of people who simply refuse to switch. The trick as performed by the
Mac Office team was to signal that things were changing over several
versions. Keep old methods in place while adding new (and presumably
better) ways to access similar functions, and wean users away moving
forward. Only after you've got the mass of your users migrated to the
new UI can you start rounding up the Luddites.

It comes down to this: Interface designers need to understand the
difference between a revolution and a coup d'etat.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
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18 Sep 2007 - 2:28pm
SemanticWill
2007

Will wrote:
"Only after you've got the mass of your users migrated to the
new UI can you start rounding up the Luddites."

And what? Have us all tarred and feathered? Make us go work for MS?

On 9/18/07, Wilson, Russell <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
>
> I think it's more than just re-training. After months and months of using
> the ribbon daily, there are several functions that are still not natural
> for
> me (I have to figure out where they are each time).
>
> That's a problem.
>
> (and I don't think I'm the odd-person out)
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:
> discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Will Parker
> Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 1:45 PM
> To: Jeff Stevenson
> Cc: IxDA Discuss
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
>
> On Sep 18, 2007, at 6:58 AM, Jeff Stevenson wrote:
> > After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon
> > UI, I
> > expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but
> > eventually
> > come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
> > perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
> > differently to increase user acceptance.
>
> It's largely a matter of user retraining, coupled with accommodation
> of people who simply refuse to switch. The trick as performed by the
> Mac Office team was to signal that things were changing over several
> versions. Keep old methods in place while adding new (and presumably
> better) ways to access similar functions, and wean users away moving
> forward. Only after you've got the mass of your users migrated to the
> new UI can you start rounding up the Luddites.
>
> It comes down to this: Interface designers need to understand the
> difference between a revolution and a coup d'etat.
>
> Will Parker
> WParker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 4:03pm
Wendy Fischer
2004

Having worked at Peoplesoft early on, I can say that the toolset Peopletools really limited any significant improvements to the interface and user experience - the whole interface was predicated on the structure of SQL. (Say "triple nested scrollbars"). Any significant UI changes had to be worked into the toolset, which was very difficult to accomplish in the bureaucratic hierarchy at Peoplesoft. (e.g. the yellow buttons stayed around so long because it was worked into Peopletools). It was a big thing when Peoplesoft moved from having Java Applets as the "web" interface and actually had an HTML generated one.

This was back in 1999-2000.

W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com> wrote: As to Peoplesoft - the only one I have experience with - they very cleary
did not employ an IA, or - if they did, the IA did not do a reverse card
sort when creating the navigation structure and labels for anything in the
application. Not only are inconsistencies rife throughout - many of the
navigation labels to kick off particular task flows are things that no human
that lives anywhere outside of the ERP business - would understand what was
happening and what things did. They broke the cardinal rule "YOU ARE NOT
YOUR USER" and thought that all their customers know all the special terms
and inside lingo of the erp business. Guess what? We don't.

On 9/18/07, Dante Murphy wrote:
>
> Oh, that's easy...it happens all the time. Half of us would be working as
> waiters or bus drivers if it didn't.
>
> Without intending to offend anyone who has worked on these software
> platforms, I can list SAP, PeopleSoft, and the Palm OS as examples of
> miraculously bad interaction design (in one release or another) with no
> constraints of available dollars or resources. Or maybe that's
> naive...maybe the constraints were perceived to be greater than the need for
> design adequacy.
>
> Anyway, I'm dropping 70 hours a week for 6 weeks on an SAP interface that
> can't manage to keep the label of the same data element consistent, that
> returns error messages like "at least one item on the list is faulty", and
> that probably cost the client several million dollars for the pleasure of
> spending 6 months to customize it.
>
> In this case, I think the reason is that the buyer is not the user...that
> old "people don't eat the dog food they buy" maxim. Can't say what went
> wrong with the interface on my Treo...why do I have to switch from stylus to
> keyboard to edit a contact?
>
> Anyway, I'm sure I'll insult someone without meaning to if I keep throwing
> darts at well-funded initiatives, so I'll stop now. But it happens every
> day...twice on Tuesdays.
>
> ________________________________
>
> From: Mike Scarpiello [mailto:mscarpiello at gmail.com]
> Sent: Mon 9/17/2007 10:52 PM
> To: Dante Murphy
> Cc: Lisa deBettencourt; discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
>
> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited money and
> (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad product?
>
>
> On 9/17/07, Dante Murphy wrote:
>
> If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting
> victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.
>
> It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS
> Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent
> placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to print
> and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever
> shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at least
> I could use it.
>
> Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference
> in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most
> proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that
> and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an
> improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't recall
> which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.
>
> Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a
> conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off your
> cscripted scenario.
>
> I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software
> licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with MS
> but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and
> buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.
>
> Dante
>
> ________________________________
>
>
> I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in
> various
> Office products.
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org <
> http://beta.ixda.org/>
>
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

18 Sep 2007 - 4:17pm
SemanticWill
2007

After typing an email if Outlook 07, I made some changes, and then needed to
Undo.

Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.

Hunt, scratch - search - pullout hair - and Hey! There it is.... a tiny
little left swooshing arrow that is on the edge of the modal window -
unlabeled - I had to mouse over every icon to find it - and it so clearly
violates Fitt's Law that I am left crying. It's tiny. That means hard to
find, and acquire. It's also right on the edge of the window - which mean's
that for someone without the fine motor skills of catwoman - they are likely
to change focus to the window behind.

Microsoft UX Team:

Fitt's Law - a cursory introduction can be found at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fitts'_law

Or from Togs:

Fitts' Law

- **The time to acquire a target is a function of the distance to and
size of the target.

While at first glance, this law might seem patently obvious, it is one of
the most ignored principles in design. Fitts' law (properly, but rarely,
spelled "Fitts's Law") dictates the Macintosh pull-down menu acquisition
should be approximately five times faster than Windows menu acquisition, and
this is proven out.

Fitts' law dictates that the windows task bar will constantly and
unnecessarily get in people's way, and this is proven out. Fitts' law
indicates that the most quickly accessed targets on any computer display are
the four corners of the screen, because of their pinning action, and yet,
for years, they seemed to be avoided at all costs by designers.

Use large objects for important functions (Big buttons are faster).

Use the pinning actions of the sides, bottom, top, and corners of your
display: A single-row toolbar with tool icons that "bleed" into the edges of
the display will be many times faster than a double row of icons with a
carefully-applied one-pixel non-clickable edge between the tools and the
side of the display.

For more on Fitts' Law, see my A Quiz Designed to Give You
Fitts<http://www.asktog.com/columns/022DesignedToGiveFitts.html>

On 9/18/07, erpdesigner <erpdesigner at yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> Having worked at Peoplesoft early on, I can say that the toolset
> Peopletools really limited any significant improvements to the interface and
> user experience - the whole interface was predicated on the structure of
> SQL. (Say "triple nested scrollbars"). Any significant UI changes had to be
> worked into the toolset, which was very difficult to accomplish in the
> bureaucratic hierarchy at Peoplesoft. (e.g. the yellow buttons stayed
> around so long because it was worked into Peopletools). It was a big thing
> when Peoplesoft moved from having Java Applets as the "web" interface and
> actually had an HTML generated one.
>
> This was back in 1999-2000.
>
>
>
> *W Evans <wkevans4 at gmail.com>* wrote:
>
> As to Peoplesoft - the only one I have experience with - they very cleary
> did not employ an IA, or - if they did, the IA did not do a reverse card
> sort when creating the navigation structure and labels for anything in the
> application. Not only are inconsistencies rife throughout - many of the
> navigation labels to kick off particular task flows are things that no
> human
> that lives anywhere outside of the ERP business - would understand what
> was
> happening and what things did. They broke the cardinal rule "YOU ARE NOT
> YOUR USER" and thought that all their customers know all the special terms
> and inside lingo of the erp business. Guess what? We don't.
>
> On 9/18/07, Dante Murphy wrote:
> >
> > Oh, that's easy...it happens all the time. Half of us would be working
> as
> > waiters or bus drivers if it didn't.
> >
> > Without intending to offend anyone who has worked on these software
> > platforms, I can list SAP, PeopleSoft, and the Palm OS as examples of
> > miraculously bad interaction design (in one release or another) with no
> > constraints of available dollars or resources. Or maybe that's
> > naive...maybe the constraints were perceived to be greater than the need
> for
> > design adequacy.
> >
> > Anyway, I'm dropping 70 hours a week for 6 weeks on an SAP interface
> that
> > can't manage to keep the label of the same data element consistent, that
> > returns error messages like "at least one item on the list is faulty",
> and
> > that probably cost the client several million dollars for the pleasure
> of
> > spending 6 months to customize it.
> >
> > In this case, I think the reason is that the buyer is not the
> user...that
> > old "people don't eat the dog food they buy" maxim. Can't say what went
> > wrong with the interface on my Treo...why do I have to switch from
> stylus to
> > keyboard to edit a contact?
> >
> > Anyway, I'm sure I'll insult someone without meaning to if I keep
> throwing
> > darts at well-funded initiatives, so I'll stop now. But it happens every
> > day...twice on Tuesdays.
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> > From: Mike Scarpiello [mailto:mscarpiello at gmail.com]
> > Sent: Mon 9/17/2007 10:52 PM
> > To: Dante Murphy
> > Cc: Lisa deBettencourt; discuss at ixda.org
> > Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
> >
> >
> > Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited money and
> > (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad
> product?
> >
> >
> > On 9/17/07, Dante Murphy wrote:
> >
> > If you "heard" my thoughts...or those of my wife, the unwitting
> > victim of my Office upgrade...all you would hear is a lot of *bleeps*.
> >
> > It really is catastrophically bad, both for the expert user of MS
> > Word (my wife) or the casual user (me). Hidden menus, inconsistent
> > placement, the clear failure to understand that many people like to
> print
> > and save documents...miraculous that such a bad piece of software ever
> > shipped. And I never thought Word was that good to begin with, but at
> least
> > I could use it.
> >
> > Outlook is largely the same, and I haven't noticed much difference
> > in Excel, which is probably the Office program in which I am most
> > proficient. Powerpoint is pretty bad too, my wife is also expert in that
> > and found the new version infuriating. It's funny..this was touted as an
> > improvement in usability a couple years ago (some conference, can't
> recall
> > which) but there was a lot more talking than doing.
> >
> > Short sidebar: if you're going to feature software at a
> > conference, you have to let people play with it. Don't just show off
> your
> > cscripted scenario.
> >
> > I can't say that I'm in a position to uninstall...my software
> > licenses had lapsed, and my company has a "home use program" deal with
> MS
> > but only 2007 was available. So I'll just keep on fumbling forward...and
> > buy my wife a new Mac for Christmas.
> >
> > Dante
> >
> > ________________________________
> >
> >
> > I'd love to hear people's thoughts on their use of the Ribbon in
> > various
> > Office products.
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org <
> > http://beta.ixda.org/>
> >
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> > Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
> >
>
>
>
> --
> ~ we
>
> -------------------------------------
> n: will evans
> t: user experience architect
> e: wkevans4 at gmail.com
>
> -------------------------------------
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 5:13pm
Mark Bardsley
2006

I have been following this discussion for some time now - well, since I
guess it started. I have to ask, don't 'we experts' use keyboard
shortcuts for things like save, print, copy, cut, paste and undo
(ctrl+z)? I know that doesn't get to the heart of the matter, that it's
difficult to find the butcons in the Ribbon. But I had the general sense
that "expert" users used keyboard shortcuts. Am I wrong in that
assumption? I am of the near religious conviction that learning keyboard
shortcuts saves time and reduces RSS. (Ahem), not that I would ever tell
a user he/she was using the software wrong.

- Mark Bardsley

>Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
>application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.

>Hunt, scratch - search - pullout hair - and Hey! There it is.... a tiny
>little left swooshing arrow that is on the edge of the modal window -
>unlabeled - I had to mouse over every icon to find it - and it so
clearly
>violates Fitt's Law that I am left crying. It's tiny. That means hard
to
>find, and acquire. It's also right on the edge of the window - which
mean's
>that for someone without the fine motor skills of catwoman - they are
>likely to change focus to the window behind.

18 Sep 2007 - 5:46pm
SemanticWill
2007

I thought about that on my walk home this evening - so it's funny you bring
it up. I was asking myself, "Self - why didn't you remember to use the
short-cut? Aren't you an expert user? Is there something wrong? Am I not
that smart to remember ctrl-z?"

I don't know - maybe I am just not that bright. Then again - design
principals written in About Face 3.0 - talks about interaction designs not
inflicting emotional harm..... so if the design of the ribbon and the hiding
of the undo button was not really adhering to fitt's law - the opposite -
that I am just not a very smart user - violates an interaction design
principle.

On 9/18/07, Mark Bardsley <markb at luxworldwide.com> wrote:
>
> I have been following this discussion for some time now - well, since I
> guess it started. I have to ask, don't 'we experts' use keyboard
> shortcuts for things like save, print, copy, cut, paste and undo
> (ctrl+z)? I know that doesn't get to the heart of the matter, that it's
> difficult to find the butcons in the Ribbon. But I had the general sense
> that "expert" users used keyboard shortcuts. Am I wrong in that
> assumption? I am of the near religious conviction that learning keyboard
> shortcuts saves time and reduces RSS. (Ahem), not that I would ever tell
> a user he/she was using the software wrong.
>
> - Mark Bardsley
>
>
> >Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
> >application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.
>
> >Hunt, scratch - search - pullout hair - and Hey! There it is.... a tiny
> >little left swooshing arrow that is on the edge of the modal window -
> >unlabeled - I had to mouse over every icon to find it - and it so
> clearly
> >violates Fitt's Law that I am left crying. It's tiny. That means hard
> to
> >find, and acquire. It's also right on the edge of the window - which
> mean's
> >that for someone without the fine motor skills of catwoman - they are
> >likely to change focus to the window behind.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 6:29pm
Mark Bardsley
2006

I bet you were caught up in your attempt to use the ribbon. I have
caught myself doing things a certain way depending on the context. This
seems to especially be the case if I "jump in the driver's seat" of a
computer after watching someone else do things a certain way.

I hope that lessons the emotional harm somewhat :-)

- Mark Bardsley

________________________________

From: W Evans [mailto:wkevans4 at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 3:46 PM
To: Mark Bardsley
Cc: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I thought about that on my walk home this evening - so it's funny you
bring it up. I was asking myself, "Self - why didn't you remember to use
the short-cut? Aren't you an expert user? Is there something wrong? Am I
not that smart to remember ctrl-z?"

I don't know - maybe I am just not that bright. Then again - design
principals written in About Face 3.0 - talks about interaction designs
not inflicting emotional harm..... so if the design of the ribbon and
the hiding of the undo button was not really adhering to fitt's law -
the opposite - that I am just not a very smart user - violates an
interaction design principle.

On 9/18/07, Mark Bardsley <markb at luxworldwide.com> wrote:

I have been following this discussion for some time now - well, since I
guess it started. I have to ask, don't 'we experts' use keyboard
shortcuts for things like save, print, copy, cut, paste and undo
(ctrl+z)? I know that doesn't get to the heart of the matter, that it's
difficult to find the butcons in the Ribbon. But I had the general sense
that "expert" users used keyboard shortcuts. Am I wrong in that
assumption? I am of the near religious conviction that learning keyboard
shortcuts saves time and reduces RSS. (Ahem), not that I would ever tell
a user he/she was using the software wrong.

- Mark Bardsley

>Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
>application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.

>Hunt, scratch - search - pullout hair - and Hey! There it is.... a tiny

>little left swooshing arrow that is on the edge of the modal window -
>unlabeled - I had to mouse over every icon to find it - and it so
clearly
>violates Fitt's Law that I am left crying. It's tiny. That means hard
to
>find, and acquire. It's also right on the edge of the window - which
mean's
>that for someone without the fine motor skills of catwoman - they are
>likely to change focus to the window behind.
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 6:57pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 18, 2007, at 12:28 PM, W Evans wrote:

> Will wrote:
> "Only after you've got the mass of your users migrated to the
> new UI can you start rounding up the Luddites."
>
> And what? Have us all tarred and feathered? Make us go work for MS?

Work for MS?! Heavens, I wouldn't be so cruel! Been there, done that,
got salt water poured on my flayed and bleeding back, and escaped in
a leaky rowboat.

No, I was thinking along the lines of Crunchy Frog Surpríse:

> "Milton: We use only the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown
> from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed,
> and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream
> milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.
> Praline: That's as maybe, it's still a frog.
>
Actually, the 'Rounding Up The Luddites' phase is where you make your
tough decisions on which pieces of your UI are barnacles and which
are merely barnacle-encrusted, and whether you can risk further
upsetting the vocal holdouts by completing the design refresh. If
yes, do it. If no, find a way to incorporate the old workflow without
cluttering up the new.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

18 Sep 2007 - 7:01pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 18, 2007, at 2:17 PM, W Evans wrote:

> After typing an email if Outlook 07, I made some changes, and then
> needed to
> Undo.
>
> Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
> application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.

One question: Does Control-Z still work for Undo?

Ignoring Fitt's Law is a felony, but messing with keyboard shortcuts
is an atrocity.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

18 Sep 2007 - 7:34pm
SemanticWill
2007

Yes - Ctrl-Z still works as expected. I just felt bad that i had gotten
frustrated and emotionally bruised and called my therapist when I could have
simple remembered to use the keyboard.

And what does everyone think - as to Fitt's Law - I kind of feel
uncomfortable calling it a law - it's more like a guideline - something to
keep in mind - but not a law - like breaking it will send you to Gitmo - but
I do feel strongly that really important commands - like Undo, Copy, Paste,
Save - should be really prominent - really obvious - really big.

On 9/18/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
>
> On Sep 18, 2007, at 2:17 PM, W Evans wrote:
>
> After typing an email if Outlook 07, I made some changes, and then needed
> to
> Undo.
>
> Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
> application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.
>
>
> One question: Does Control-Z still work for Undo?
>
> Ignoring Fitt's Law is a felony, but messing with keyboard shortcuts is an
> atrocity.
>
> Will Parker
> WParker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
>
>
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

18 Sep 2007 - 7:48pm
SemanticWill
2007

Your right - I was in the mode to learn/use/master the ribbon and it was
almost as if I had forgotten what application I was using.

On 9/18/07, Mark Bardsley <markb at luxworldwide.com> wrote:
>
> I bet you were caught up in your attempt to use the ribbon. I have caught
> myself doing things a certain way depending on the context. This seems to
> especially be the case if I "jump in the driver's seat" of a computer after
> watching someone else do things a certain way.
>
>
>
> I hope that lessons the emotional harm somewhat J
>
>
>
> - Mark Bardsley
>
>
> ------------------------------
>
> *From:* W Evans [mailto:wkevans4 at gmail.com]
> *Sent:* Tuesday, September 18, 2007 3:46 PM
> *To:* Mark Bardsley
> *Cc:* discuss at ixda.org
> *Subject:* Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
>
>
> I thought about that on my walk home this evening - so it's funny you
> bring it up. I was asking myself, "Self - why didn't you remember to use the
> short-cut? Aren't you an expert user? Is there something wrong? Am I not
> that smart to remember ctrl-z?"
>
> I don't know - maybe I am just not that bright. Then again - design
> principals written in About Face 3.0 - talks about interaction designs not
> inflicting emotional harm..... so if the design of the ribbon and the hiding
> of the undo button was not really adhering to fitt's law - the opposite -
> that I am just not a very smart user - violates an interaction design
> principle.
>
>
> On 9/18/07, *Mark Bardsley* <markb at luxworldwide.com> wrote:
>
> I have been following this discussion for some time now - well, since I
> guess it started. I have to ask, don't 'we experts' use keyboard
> shortcuts for things like save, print, copy, cut, paste and undo
> (ctrl+z)? I know that doesn't get to the heart of the matter, that it's
> difficult to find the butcons in the Ribbon. But I had the general sense
> that "expert" users used keyboard shortcuts. Am I wrong in that
> assumption? I am of the near religious conviction that learning keyboard
> shortcuts saves time and reduces RSS. (Ahem), not that I would ever tell
> a user he/she was using the software wrong.
>
> - Mark Bardsley
>
>
> >Undo. Arguable one of the most important commands in any well designed
> >application. There was no ribbon for Edit, and there is no Edit Menu.
>
> >Hunt, scratch - search - pullout hair - and Hey! There it is.... a tiny
> >little left swooshing arrow that is on the edge of the modal window -
> >unlabeled - I had to mouse over every icon to find it - and it so
> clearly
> >violates Fitt's Law that I am left crying. It's tiny. That means hard
> to
> >find, and acquire. It's also right on the edge of the window - which
> mean's
> >that for someone without the fine motor skills of catwoman - they are
> >likely to change focus to the window behind.
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>
>
>
>
> --
> ~ we
>
> -------------------------------------
> n: will evans
> t: user experience architect
> e: wkevans4 at gmail.com
>
> -------------------------------------
>

--
~ we

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: user experience architect
e: wkevans4 at gmail.com

-------------------------------------

19 Sep 2007 - 6:17pm
natekendrick
2005

More MS critique... now more critical because we're talking about the
Mac Office!

http://www.macoffice2008.com/

Does anyone find it alarming that invoking the "Elements Gallery"
actually changes the scale of the document being viewed?

I definitely do, especially when it concerns layout. I (and I dare
say most) work at a specific zoom level for very important reasons...
things like font size, movings objects, etc etc.

Color: Why do we need different colors (for example: lime green for
Charts) in the interface? Its distracting rather than helpful in
identifying. The icons are there for identifying what set of objects
are being used.

And why do the user interface elements (such as the pill shaped
filter buttons) "look like" but are obviously not the same as used in
the Mac OS? if anything, that's what drives me nuts in Mac Office
2004... the poorly copied interface elements. Sorta like using
Firefox on the Mac... ugh.

-N

19 Sep 2007 - 8:00pm
ldebett
2004

Woah... I don't understand why Office for the Mac would be so much different
than office for Windows. Why wouldn't MS try to align the UI and IxD for
both? Especially considering we can run Windows on our Intel Macs now. I
mean, I get that there are core components to each OS that would be
preserved, but this is way beyond that.

Color: Why do we need different colors (for example: lime green for
> Charts) in the interface? Its distracting rather than helpful in
> identifying. The icons are there for identifying what set of objects
> are being used.

Well, because we're Artists after all... ?

~Lisa

20 Sep 2007 - 1:45pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 19, 2007, at 6:00 PM, Lisa deBettencourt wrote:

> Woah... I don't understand why Office for the Mac would be so much
> different
> than office for Windows. Why wouldn't MS try to align the UI and
> IxD for
> both? Especially considering we can run Windows on our Intel Macs
> now. I
> mean, I get that there are core components to each OS that would be
> preserved, but this is way beyond that.

(I may have missed something important in the Semi-Annual Redmond Re-
Org Festivals since I left Microsoft, but I don't think I have.
Nevertheless, take the description of org chart position with a grain
of salt. The rest is well-informed opinion.)

The Macintosh Business Unit is not organizationally connected to the
Windows Office group. It's wedged into what used to be called the
Home & Retail division, along with miscellaneous educational
software, keyboards & mice, and other "rounding error" fripperies.
When I last had access to the company org chart, the group manager
for the MacBU was eight layers of management away from BillG, which
is certainly not the case for the WinOffice GM.

There's strong coordination on file formats, protocols and general
strategic direction (largely because Mac Office *must* be 100% bug-
for-bug compatible with Win Office when it comes to document
rendering), but MacBU products consciously and intentionally are
first and foremost Mac products for Mac-using customers, with visual
and UI design being informed by the MacBU's own customer research and
testing.

The dark shadows of Word 6 and Office 4.0 lay long on the land, and
nobody wants to repeat the mistakes of that era.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

20 Sep 2007 - 8:06pm
natekendrick
2005

On Sep 20, 2007, at 11:45 AM, Will Parker wrote:

> There's strong coordination on file formats, protocols and general
> strategic direction (largely because Mac Office *must* be 100% bug-
> for-bug compatible with Win Office when it comes to document
> rendering),

Woohoo! Even pivot tables!?

> but MacBU products consciously and intentionally are
> first and foremost Mac products for Mac-using customers, with visual
> and UI design being informed by the MacBU's own customer research and
> testing.

ummm, but isn't what is good for one user, be good for another user?
Mac users are no different from PC users, despite Apple's tongue-in-
cheek TV adverts.

Even utilizing differing OS UI libraries the majority of the user
experience can remain intact. See Adobe Photoshop (et al). Which
makes me realize... hey if Adobe can make awesome contextual UI
(introduced in CS2) AND still have functions located in stable places
AND have awesome palettes for thousands of functions.

btw... I abhor the Mac OS X floating palettes and transparent
palettes. Especially the sliders and anything where you can enter a
numeric value and you have to slide a weird circle thing (see the
system font palette).

-N

21 Sep 2007 - 2:54pm
natekendrick
2005

On Sep 20, 2007, at 6:56 PM, Will Parker wrote:

>> Even utilizing differing OS UI libraries the majority of the user
>> experience can remain intact. See Adobe Photoshop (et al).
>
> For the two Offices, it's far deeper than that. Neither suite has a
> nice, clean MVC architecture; they've both grown more in the manner
> of a coral reef. Further, each dev team has taken *every*
> opportunity to optimize core code for the native platform. Mac
> Office and Win Office share less code than humans and chimpanzees do.

They don't need to share code. But they should share similar user
experiences that I would think would save in interaction/interface
design time and user's time who work on both platforms.

>> btw... I abhor the Mac OS X floating palettes and transparent
>> palettes.
>
> Which? The Mac Office palettes or some others that are part of Mac
> OS X?
>
> If Mac OS X, when you say 'transparent palette', I think you're
> referring to what's called a HUD-style palette inside Apple. These
> can be useful where the user needs controls on top of some content
> that gets changed as the controls are manipulated. They can be
> abused, of course.
>
> As for just plain floating palettes, what is it about Mac palettes
> that piss you off that you don't encounter in Windows?

It was just a general statement about the Mac OS system palettes -
used liberally in iWork and iLife. I think the Formatting Palette in
Mac Office is much superior to Mac OS palettes.

21 Sep 2007 - 5:31pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 21, 2007, at 12:54 PM, Nathan Kendrick wrote:

> On Sep 20, 2007, at 6:56 PM, Will Parker wrote:
>
>>> Mac Office and Win Office share less code than humans and
>>> chimpanzees do.
>
> They don't need to share code. But they should share similar user
> experiences that I would think would save in interaction/interface
> design time and user's time who work on both platforms.

'Precisely the same user interface' was tried in Mac Office 4, and
the result was that the angry villagers nearly burned down the
castle. I doubt if the experiment will be repeated.

Seriously, though, both Office design teams do indeed tend to ignore
cross-platform users.

Although I haven't seen the research (if in fact there is any), I
_believe_ the thinking at Microsoft is that it's less annoying to
swap between two quite distinct yet internally coherent platform
experiences than it is to swap between two 95%-similar interfaces and
have to stay attentive of close-but-not-quite-matching platform-
specific conventions like Command-key vs. Control-key vs. Option-key
vs. Alt-key. Whether this is a valid line of reasoning I'll leave to
others.

The other factor, and this is _certainly_ true, is that coordinating
the UX between the two platforms would require a coordinated release
schedule. The problem there is that the WinOffice release cycle is
partially dependent on the WinOS release schedule, while the
MacOffice cycle is equally dependent on the Mac OS release schedule.
Neither team wants to wait while the other solidifies plans for the
next release, and given the divergence in the two platforms'
capabilities, it would probably be pointless to do so anyway.

About all the MacBU can afford to do is wait for the 'final final'
document and DRM specs for the previous WinOffice release, and
otherwise go their own way.

>>> btw... I abhor the Mac OS X floating palettes and transparent
>>> palettes.
>>
>> As for just plain floating palettes, what is it about Mac palettes
>> that piss you off that you don't encounter in Windows?
>
> It was just a general statement about the Mac OS system palettes -
> used liberally in iWork and iLife.

If you're talking about the translucent ones, those actually are more
an iApp innovation than a system-wide UI feature in 10.4.x. It's the
bloody Font palette that drives me insane. It's poorly-presented
overkill for many formatting tasks, and not powerful enough for deep
typographical tweaking.

> I think the Formatting Palette in
> Mac Office is much superior to Mac OS palettes.

As someone who spent a good many hours picking lint out of that
design and hassling the designer with suggestions, I'll take that as
a welcome compliment.

Too bad, tho - a brief glance at the Office 2008 screenshots makes me
think they've de-emphasized the FP.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

21 Sep 2007 - 11:05pm
Dwayne King
2005

On Sep 18, 2007, at 11:24 AM, Will Parker wrote:
>
>> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited
>> money and
>> (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to be such a bad
>> product?
>
> I imagine the members of the Ford Edsel design team might have some
> hindsight on that.
>

Negative.

Just a couple of days ago I heard an interview on NPR with the
designer of the Edsel (Roy Brown). Reason for its failure ...
politics at Ford.

I suspect the person that designed the Aztec is assuming that his car
was killed because he (or she - but I'd like to think that a woman
would have the good sense not to design a car that ugly. I'll stick
with he) was rude to one of the office admins who subsequently
sabotaged his glorious invention that was "THE AZTEC" by delivering
decaf to his introductory presentation of the car/truck/suv thing.

It always makes me wonder why someone in the back of the room didn't
raise their hand and say, "yeah, but it's really ugly." I suspect
it's the same reason the drummer never tells the lead singer that he
just wrote some really stupid lyrics.

I haven't had the "opportunity" to interact with the ribbon, but I
was looking at screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac (http://
www.tuaw.com/photos/office-2008-for-the-mac-screenshots/136005/) and
I believe I counted 6 or 7 layers work bars + a formatting palette 16
global choices. Perhaps if I were smarter, this would be valuable.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't most people use Word to write
letters, memos and the like? If I can do that with one pen and one
piece of paper, why do I need thousands of options on my computer?
Just a thought, maybe Word doesn't need to be inDesign, Photoshop, an
HTML Editor, Wordpad, workflow monitor, a mass mailer and a toaster
all rolled into one.

On a related note, the new version of Pages works really well. The
first version made me want to stab myself, but this one is pretty
slick. Also, I think iWork cost about a third the price of Office.
Apple's pretty good at getting things right in the second go around.

Okay, my babbling message is done - thanks for sticking with me this
long.

Dwayne King | Pinpoint Logic | www.pinpointlogic.com |
503.343.3232

21 Sep 2007 - 11:13pm
Dwayne King
2005

On Sep 20, 2007, at 6:06 PM, Nathan Kendrick wrote:

> hey if Adobe can make awesome contextual UI
> (introduced in CS2) AND still have functions located in stable places
> AND have awesome palettes for thousands of functions.

Careful, those are fightin' words.

Please define "awesome contextual UI." If an awesome UI is one that
makes you want to throw your laptop through a window, no explanation
needed.

Dwayne King | Pinpoint Logic | www.pinpointlogic.com |
503.343.3232

23 Sep 2007 - 3:07pm
Will Parker
2007

On Sep 21, 2007, at 9:05 PM, Dwayne King wrote:

> On Sep 18, 2007, at 11:24 AM, Will Parker wrote:
>>
>>> Question to all - How can such a large company, with unlimited
>>> money and (UX) resources, turn out what is perceived by many to
>>> be such a bad product?
>>
>> I imagine the members of the Ford Edsel design team might have
>> some hindsight on that.
>
> Negative.
>
> Just a couple of days ago I heard an interview on NPR with the
> designer of the Edsel (Roy Brown). Reason for its failure ...
> politics at Ford.

And politics At Microsoft are non-existent?

> It always makes me wonder why someone in the back of the room
> didn't raise their hand and say, "yeah, but it's really ugly." I
> suspect it's the same reason the drummer never tells the lead
> singer that he just wrote some really stupid lyrics.

You can't just walk up to the bull with your saber in your hand. You
need to know how to use the little red cape as well.

> ... I was looking at screenshots of Office 2008 for Mac ... and I
> believe I counted 6 or 7 layers work bars + a formatting palette 16
> global choices. Perhaps if I were smarter, this would be valuable.

Yeah, that's about as far as I've gotten with inspecting Office 2007
or 2008. I'm working at the other end of the complexity spectrum
these days, trying to convince people to get all the way up to
minimally acceptable UX. (Hmmm.... 'spose I was doing that at MS as
well.)

> Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't most people use Word to write
> letters, memos and the like? ... Just a thought, maybe Word
> doesn't need to be inDesign, Photoshop, an HTML Editor, Wordpad,
> workflow monitor, a mass mailer and a toaster all rolled into one.

Your fundamental mistake lies in the assumption that Microsoft's
target audience is people. I've said it before, and I'll say it again
- Microsoft sells products designed for _corporations_.

People tend to make reasonably intelligent decisions when choosing
their preferred tools. [I say this despite having a copy of 'Darwin
Awards 4' on my nightstand.]

Corporations tend to think with their hind ... brains.

Microsoft's products (not to mention most of Adobe's) have grown into
unwieldy 100-kilo toolchests-on-wheels because corporate officers
have bought into the idea that buying *one* do-it-all product is the
simplest route to solving their need for production software, even if
it isn't the _best_ solution. Huge checklists of features are the
main selling point for that crowd.

More features mean more complexity, more complexity drives up the
cost of development and support. Improving one feature for the next
release has unintended consequences on all the others, and the whole
damned Gordian knot has to be untied before you can see the root of
the problem.

However, the core problem with capturing customers who prefer massive
feature lists is that they highjack your design process and make it
politically impossible to sell simpler and less expensive products,
to the corporations OR to anyone else.

I know of at least two major re-design efforts at Microsoft that were
ultimately abandoned when it became clear that corporate IT buyers
would simply refuse to buy the simpler products and wait until MS
came around to seeing it their way.

> On a related note, the new version of Pages works really well. The
> first version made me want to stab myself, but this one is pretty
> slick.

If you spend any time watching Apple, you'll soon note that Steve
Jobs absolutely refuses to design products tailored for corporate
buyers. Watching IBM, Microsoft and Dell design for business can be
instructive, I suppose.

BTW, spend time in both PowerPoint and Keynote, and you'll find the
same clarity and simplicity in the Apple presentation program. Makes
a pretty good tool for preliminary UI prototyping, too.

> Also, I think iWork cost about a third the price of Office.

Simpler products with functionality appropriate to the task cost less
throughout the product life-cycle. Simple as that.

Will Parker
WParker at ChannelingDesign.com

24 Sep 2007 - 3:12am
Dimiter Simov
2006

Chris,
There are a few things I would have done differently designing and
implementing the ribbon:

1. Give experienced users options to customize the ribbon - now it is
static, so many people hate it. The only place that personalization is
allowed is the Quick Access toolbar, which has limited space.

2. Preserve compatibility with previous personalizations - for example, my
menus containing styles that I used in previous versions (in fact, since
Office 95) do not work in Word 2007.

3. Allow users to control the degree of smartness offered by the application
- for example, when I use numbered lists and indent a line to make it a
sub-list, I do not want Word to decide instead of me that I want to indent
the entire list.

4. Base the interface and interaction on different task flows. Maybe most
people first write, then format, then insert pictures, then add references.
I am sure there are many who don't do it that way - myself included.

5. Never count on people getting used to it and thus gradually getting to
like it more. As a person masters a skill, that person inevitably finds ways
to streamline his or her work. No one can streamline the ribbon - see point
1.

Here is my extended opinion in Bulgarian
http://www.e-lesno.com/blog/office2007_kordela/

Dimiter

Dimiter Simov
Lucrat Ltd. www.lucrat.net
Netage Solutions Inc. www.netagesolutions.com
Usability blog www.e-lesno.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Chris
Bernard
Sent: Tue, Sep 18, 2007 17:47
To: Jeff Stevenson; Lisa deBettencourt
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I did a talk on all this stuff back in January that folks can watch here:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/f/f/1fff960f-51a2-44b1-b033-bf25a3c
7c7ab/BRE001.wmv

Those of you familiar with Jensen's blog will find much of the content
familiar. I've provided some context on Office below for folks that are
interested.

It will tell you exactly how a company with 'unlimited' resources and money
goes about redesigning an interface. And of course statements like this are
silly as NO company, not even Microsoft can approach projects from this
perspective. But it will give you insights into the design decisions a
company makes, and how they can make them, when it's a product that involves
hundreds of millions of users (350 million to 500 million depending on who
is counting).

I'll summarize by saying the Office 2007 is far from perfect (The Orb and
it's hidden goodness perhaps being its signature failing). But all in all
when you look at the customer scenarios that Office has to fulfill I would
call our redesign a stunning success. It makes it far easier for existing
users to create more polished documents quickly and it's a much easier
interface for new users to pick up (and our benchmark and longitudnal
testing bear this out anecdotes aside). In fact I'd be hard pressed to name
one single example of where a company is taking a bigger chance on user
experience than with Office. SAP is trying and we'll start seeing the fruits
of their labor soon and I would submit that going from OS9 to OSX was a huge
change for many. We must all still know a few of those holdouts banging
things out in Quark on OS9. :)

The problem with Office 2007 is the same problem a lot of big applications
and productivity suites have, be they Adobe Creative Suite, PeopleSoft, SAP,
Sharepoint, etc. in that they are designed to do everything well and often
do most of it poorly or require a very advanced learning curve (Imagine
sitting down in front of Photoshop or InDesign for the first time. These are
complex applications but I've been using them for 18 years so I don't even
notice anymore).

The Ribbon got Office steered in the right direction but it is of course a
journey. But it's also an opportunity and it's why we see the success of
niche products like Basecamp or even Apple's collection of Pages, Keynote
and Numbers that are fantastically useful for many folks.

I'd be curious to hear from folks that want to learn more about Office.
Watch my talk and tell me what you would have done differently from a design
process. Share it here.

Chris Bernard
Microsoft
User Experience Evangelist
chris.bernard at microsoft.com
630.530.4208 Office
312.925.4095 Mobile

Blog: www.designthinkingdigest.com
Design: www.microsoft.com/design
Tools: www.microsoft.com/expression
Community: http://www.visitmix.com

"The future is already here. It's just not evenly distributed." William
Gibson

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff
Stevenson
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 8:58 AM
To: Lisa deBettencourt
Cc: IxDA Discuss
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I can attest to at least one instance of what Will described. I used to work
for a small software company that is all but married to Microsoft, and they
decided to redesign their software with a Ribbon interface. This was not,
unfortunately, a decision born out of their desire for a better UI, but a
decision born out of a desire to be like Microsoft.

The fortunate result was that I got to spend a lot of time reading Jenson
Harrison's blog (http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/default.aspx) and reverse
engineering the usability principles behind the ribbon. In theory, I think
the ribbon is a very clever and well thought out interface. But in reality,
convention trumps clever ideas. So I'm certain that most long-time Office
users are more frustrated with the changes than they are pleased with the
new innovations.

It would be very interesting to do some usability comparisons of Office 2007
and Office 2003 on brand new Office users (if any exist out there). Maybe
the UI would seem better if users were not already used to something else?

Someone else mentioned that it seems like the ribbon takes up a lot of
vertical screen real estate. I agree this certainly seems true, but Jenson
addressed this in an interesting blog post:
<http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh/archive/2006/04/17/577485.aspx>

Also, you can always minimize the ribbon if you want more space for your
documents.

After spending a lot of time studying the theory behind the ribbon UI, I
expected that users would react to the UI negatively at first but eventually
come around to liking it. So I'm a little surprised that the general
perception is still negative. I wonder what Microsoft could have done
differently to increase user acceptance.

Jeff

On 9/17/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:

> I think a lot of solidly Windows-oriented software companies will
> play follow the leader. The usual suspects will treat ribbons as a
> spray-on skin, whether it's a good fit or not.
>
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24 Sep 2007 - 2:44pm
natekendrick
2005

On Sep 21, 2007, at 9:13 PM, Dwayne King wrote:

>
> On Sep 20, 2007, at 6:06 PM, Nathan Kendrick wrote:
>
>> hey if Adobe can make awesome contextual UI
>> (introduced in CS2) AND still have functions located in stable places
>> AND have awesome palettes for thousands of functions.
>
>
> Careful, those are fightin' words.
>
> Please define "awesome contextual UI." If an awesome UI is one that
> makes you want to throw your laptop through a window, no
> explanation needed.

Umm, how about that handy horizontal palette that appears under the
menu bar? You know, the one that doesn't distract from use of other
palettes but can be very useful if you forget where certain options
are in a current tool. I don't think I've heard much complainin'
about Adobe Ps/Ai/In UI... I for one don't have many quibbles.
Personally, I think the "Smart Guides" in Ai was one of the most
incredible leaps in interaction/user interface design done in a while.

-N

24 Sep 2007 - 2:56pm
ldebett
2004

On 9/22/07, Dwayne King <pinpointlogic at mac.com> wrote:
>
> Please define "awesome contextual UI." If an awesome UI is one that
> makes you want to throw your laptop through a window, no explanation
> needed.
>

Dwayne, can you elaborate? What frustrates you about it?

It's funny because I often don't see it or use it, but I sometimes get
roadblocked by the requirement to cancel/accept things like placed images,
text etc. before I can move on. Then, I remember that it is up there.

~Lisa

27 Sep 2007 - 4:05pm
DrWex
2006

I've been using MS Office 2007 for several months now and I think it's
pretty bad. Except when it's very very good. Let me explain:

As long as I'm doing a common task, in the manner in which the
software designer wants me to do it, I'm golden. In fact I mostly
don't use the ribbon (I can't find anything on it) but about 75% of
the time I don't have to because the command I want is on the
right-mouse (context) menu. I like it and I think the in-place
translucent context menus are a big step forward.

Common things are presented directly in the context in which you're
working. As long as you want to do a common thing you are generally
good to go. If, however, you want to do an uncommon thing, you're
frelled.

I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track the progress of my
icon redesign project. As such it has hundreds of little images
embedded in cells. I wanted to figure out how to crop an image to fit
in the cell. Go on, try the exercise yourself, I'll wait. While I'm
waiting I'll tell a little story:

In fact what I did was observe five people, all reasonably smart, with
varying degrees of knowledge of Excel ranging from novice to frequent
user fumble around for about 15 minutes until we dumb-lucked into
finding the command. This really highlighted for me how little support
there is in the 2007 design for people who want to do things out of
the ordinary. My bet is that very few Excel users care that much
about images.

One of the biggest problems of the ribbon, which confounded my
coworkers, is that the ribbon makes scanning hard-to-impossible. With
menus and toolbars there's a nice left-right/top-bottom scan order.
With the ribbon it's all over the place.

Found the command yet? No? OK, keep looking, I've got another story:
Shortly after installing Office 2007 I was showing it to coworkers,
one of whom asked "What's that throbbing thing up there?" He was
pointing to the bulb in the upper left.
"No idea" say I.
"Is it supposed to be doing that?"
"No idea". Now he's looking at me like I'm an idiot.
"Isn't it a bad idea to be distracting people by having something
moving on the screen?"
"Yes," I admit, generally it is.
"How come Microsoft is doing it?" Now he's certain I'm a moron.
"Don't they have any usability people?"
Sigh.

When I first started working with Word 2007 I tried to make documents
that looked like the documents I'd always made. Dear lord what a
pain. I had to fight with the software about styles, font colors,
types and sizes, and even such minutiae as whether the page number in
a footer would be aligned with my name.

Eventually I gave up. I just told Word to make a new document and let
it do things the way it wanted. Life is easier now. The documents
don't look the way I want, but they look OK. That's kind of the
general message of Office 2007 - do things the way the software
designers wanted, stick to common actions, and it's really quite good.

--Alan

27 Sep 2007 - 4:41pm
russwilson
2005

Alan - take a look at: http://www.dexodesign.com/2007/08/why-microsofts-ribbon-sucks.html

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Alan Wexelblat
Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2007 4:05 PM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?

I've been using MS Office 2007 for several months now and I think it's
pretty bad. Except when it's very very good. Let me explain:

As long as I'm doing a common task, in the manner in which the
software designer wants me to do it, I'm golden. In fact I mostly
don't use the ribbon (I can't find anything on it) but about 75% of
the time I don't have to because the command I want is on the
right-mouse (context) menu. I like it and I think the in-place
translucent context menus are a big step forward.

Common things are presented directly in the context in which you're
working. As long as you want to do a common thing you are generally
good to go. If, however, you want to do an uncommon thing, you're
frelled.

I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track the progress of my
icon redesign project. As such it has hundreds of little images
embedded in cells. I wanted to figure out how to crop an image to fit
in the cell. Go on, try the exercise yourself, I'll wait. While I'm
waiting I'll tell a little story:

In fact what I did was observe five people, all reasonably smart, with
varying degrees of knowledge of Excel ranging from novice to frequent
user fumble around for about 15 minutes until we dumb-lucked into
finding the command. This really highlighted for me how little support
there is in the 2007 design for people who want to do things out of
the ordinary. My bet is that very few Excel users care that much
about images.

One of the biggest problems of the ribbon, which confounded my
coworkers, is that the ribbon makes scanning hard-to-impossible. With
menus and toolbars there's a nice left-right/top-bottom scan order.
With the ribbon it's all over the place.

Found the command yet? No? OK, keep looking, I've got another story:
Shortly after installing Office 2007 I was showing it to coworkers,
one of whom asked "What's that throbbing thing up there?" He was
pointing to the bulb in the upper left.
"No idea" say I.
"Is it supposed to be doing that?"
"No idea". Now he's looking at me like I'm an idiot.
"Isn't it a bad idea to be distracting people by having something
moving on the screen?"
"Yes," I admit, generally it is.
"How come Microsoft is doing it?" Now he's certain I'm a moron.
"Don't they have any usability people?"
Sigh.

When I first started working with Word 2007 I tried to make documents
that looked like the documents I'd always made. Dear lord what a
pain. I had to fight with the software about styles, font colors,
types and sizes, and even such minutiae as whether the page number in
a footer would be aligned with my name.

Eventually I gave up. I just told Word to make a new document and let
it do things the way it wanted. Life is easier now. The documents
don't look the way I want, but they look OK. That's kind of the
general message of Office 2007 - do things the way the software
designers wanted, stick to common actions, and it's really quite good.

--Alan
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
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27 Sep 2007 - 5:21pm
DrWex
2006

Yes, I looked at that post from earlier in the thread. I think it's
an illustration of the point I was making. For example, the software
design anticipates that horizontal centering is a common function.
Thus it's prominent and easily found. Vertical centering is assumed
to be a less-used/less-common function and finding it is quite
difficult. The underlying structures support the common set extremely
well and the other set extremely poorly.

Further, I agree with you that it's not a learning issue. I've also
been using Office 2007 (primarily Word and Excel) for several months
and I don't think the problems have gotten any better.

Best,
--Alan

On 9/27/07, Wilson, Russell <Russell.Wilson at netqos.com> wrote:
> Alan - take a look at: http://www.dexodesign.com/2007/08/why-microsofts-ribbon-sucks.html
>
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Alan Wexelblat
> Sent: Thursday, September 27, 2007 4:05 PM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Microsoft's Ribbon?
>
> I've been using MS Office 2007 for several months now and I think it's
> pretty bad. Except when it's very very good. Let me explain:
>
> As long as I'm doing a common task, in the manner in which the
> software designer wants me to do it, I'm golden. In fact I mostly
> don't use the ribbon (I can't find anything on it) but about 75% of
> the time I don't have to because the command I want is on the
> right-mouse (context) menu. I like it and I think the in-place
> translucent context menus are a big step forward.
>
> Common things are presented directly in the context in which you're
> working. As long as you want to do a common thing you are generally
> good to go. If, however, you want to do an uncommon thing, you're
> frelled.
>
> I have an Excel spreadsheet that I use to track the progress of my
> icon redesign project. As such it has hundreds of little images
> embedded in cells. I wanted to figure out how to crop an image to fit
> in the cell. Go on, try the exercise yourself, I'll wait. While I'm
> waiting I'll tell a little story:
>
> In fact what I did was observe five people, all reasonably smart, with
> varying degrees of knowledge of Excel ranging from novice to frequent
> user fumble around for about 15 minutes until we dumb-lucked into
> finding the command. This really highlighted for me how little support
> there is in the 2007 design for people who want to do things out of
> the ordinary. My bet is that very few Excel users care that much
> about images.
>
> One of the biggest problems of the ribbon, which confounded my
> coworkers, is that the ribbon makes scanning hard-to-impossible. With
> menus and toolbars there's a nice left-right/top-bottom scan order.
> With the ribbon it's all over the place.
>
> Found the command yet? No? OK, keep looking, I've got another story:
> Shortly after installing Office 2007 I was showing it to coworkers,
> one of whom asked "What's that throbbing thing up there?" He was
> pointing to the bulb in the upper left.
> "No idea" say I.
> "Is it supposed to be doing that?"
> "No idea". Now he's looking at me like I'm an idiot.
> "Isn't it a bad idea to be distracting people by having something
> moving on the screen?"
> "Yes," I admit, generally it is.
> "How come Microsoft is doing it?" Now he's certain I'm a moron.
> "Don't they have any usability people?"
> Sigh.
>
> When I first started working with Word 2007 I tried to make documents
> that looked like the documents I'd always made. Dear lord what a
> pain. I had to fight with the software about styles, font colors,
> types and sizes, and even such minutiae as whether the page number in
> a footer would be aligned with my name.
>
> Eventually I gave up. I just told Word to make a new document and let
> it do things the way it wanted. Life is easier now. The documents
> don't look the way I want, but they look OK. That's kind of the
> general message of Office 2007 - do things the way the software
> designers wanted, stick to common actions, and it's really quite good.
>
> --Alan
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

--
--Alan Wexelblat

28 Sep 2007 - 12:38pm
natekendrick
2005

On Sep 27, 2007, at 2:05 PM, Alan Wexelblat wrote:

> Eventually I gave up. I just told Word to make a new document and let
> it do things the way it wanted. Life is easier now. The documents
> don't look the way I want, but they look OK. That's kind of the
> general message of Office 2007 - do things the way the software
> designers wanted, stick to common actions, and it's really quite good.

In one paragraph you just summarized why Apple products tend to be
loved and not just tolerated.

I'll make some grand generalizations to prove a theory:

MS (just like, GM/Ford) tends to try to do the consumer right, but
they lose out on getting it "just right" in the end. So, because of
this, some smaller population of users want to control the minutia
that ends up confounding them. The majority accepts the way its done/
looks and tolerates it.

Apple (just like BMW, Porsche) tends to try to do the consumer right,
and somehow gets it "just right". No more, no less. For the majority,
they love Apple for this. For the minority, they use a Linux distro =).

28 Sep 2007 - 1:35pm
Joseph Selbie
2007

"Apple (just like BMW, Porsche) tends to try to do the consumer right,
and somehow gets it "just right". No more, no less. For the majority,
they love Apple for this. For the minority, they use a Linux distro =)."

This begs a question for me. Can any product that has 90% of the market ever
be "just right"? Does creating a product that its users will love require
concentrating on a small percentage of the market and charging a premium?

Joseph Selbie
Founder, CEO Tristream
http://www.tristream.com

28 Sep 2007 - 1:47pm
Mark Schraad
2006

I can not think of a single company that has grown to profitably dominate its market, and still maintained a very high level of customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. At least not in the united states. It would be a great list to look at though.

I would hate to think that arrogance and complacency are always the result of great success.

On Friday, September 28, 2007, at 02:36PM, "Joseph Selbie" <jselbie at tristream.com> wrote:
>
>"Apple (just like BMW, Porsche) tends to try to do the consumer right,
>and somehow gets it "just right". No more, no less. For the majority,
>they love Apple for this. For the minority, they use a Linux distro =)."
>
>This begs a question for me. Can any product that has 90% of the market ever
>be "just right"? Does creating a product that its users will love require
>concentrating on a small percentage of the market and charging a premium?
>
>Joseph Selbie
>Founder, CEO Tristream
>http://www.tristream.com

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