Office or Vista - That is the Question

11 Dec 2007 - 12:29pm
6 years ago
9 replies
458 reads
Jenni Merrifield
2007

Yesterday, the following message came in on a local, but low bandwidth, UE
list I'm on:

One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?

Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.

I thought the question might get more traction here, seeing as the IxDA list
has a much larger membership. I've CC'd Jerome, the original poster, who you
might want to include on any replies as I don't know if he's on this list.

:-j(enni)

~~~~~
jenni merrifield -- jenniferm at cgtvgames.com
CGTV Games -- The Power of Interactive Entertainment
~~~~~
Designing to requirements
And walking on water
Are easy if both are frozen
~~~~~

Comments

11 Dec 2007 - 1:50pm
Jerome Ryckborst
2007

Thanks, Jennifer, and hello, all; I've just joined your list.

I'm wondering if the ribbon is a solution for a large (overly complex) set of features where the speed of user performance is not a primary design driver?

Also, I don't yet have Vista installed on my computer, so I confess I'm not really sure what my Dev team (which is 16 hours ahead in Australia; I'm in Canada) means when they say "Vista menus" -- is this just a menu bar?

My original question:

One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?

Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.

-=- Jerome

-----Original Message-----
From: Jenni Merrifield
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 9:30 AM
Cc: Jerome Ryckborst
Subject: Office or Vista - That is the Question

Yesterday, the following message came in on a local, but low bandwidth, UE list I'm on:

One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?

Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.

I thought the question might get more traction here, seeing as the IxDA list has a much larger membership. I've CC'd Jerome, the original poster, who you might want to include on any replies as I don't know if he's on this list.

:-j(enni)

11 Dec 2007 - 6:09pm
Jeff Axup
2006

Hi Jenni,

It is certainly an interesting question. I am using Office 2007, but not
Vista, which is just the way I like it.

The move from [long, textual, multi-level menus with auto-hiding and cryptic
icon-only toolbars] to a [tabbed arrangement of combinations of icons with
text, and one level deep sub-sections, optimized around common actions]
seems like a clear step toward making complex applications more usable to
novice or irregular users. The toolbars were an advanced user feature, which
supported very rapid activation - IF you could remember what the icon meant,
and you could click the small button, and the function you wanted was there
to begin with. I've often spend long periods of time (in old menu-style
apps) trying to find features in menus that I knew must be there, but with
several levels of embedding, and no graphical cues they can be very hard to
find and remember the location of.

So, in some cases the new ribbon will be slower (particular for
transitioning users struggling to find the location of features they are
used to using). However I think it represents a better balance between
novice and advanced functions. I'm not exactly sure which "vista menus"
you're referring to, but textual menus will always suffer from the usual
problems of not explaining their content well, little graphical guidance,
and the potential of multiple levels increasing cognitive load for the user
(which is why the Start menu is so poorly designed).

Also, I think any Fitt's law gains that would have been gained by not using
the ribbon will be lost due to the slow response times of Vista. =)

-Jeff

On Dec 11, 2007 10:50 AM, Jerome Ryckborst <JRyckborst at gemcomsoftware.com>
wrote:

> Thanks, Jennifer, and hello, all; I've just joined your list.
>
> I'm wondering if the ribbon is a solution for a large (overly complex) set
> of features where the speed of user performance is not a primary design
> driver?
>
> Also, I don't yet have Vista installed on my computer, so I confess I'm
> not really sure what my Dev team (which is 16 hours ahead in Australia; I'm
> in Canada) means when they say "Vista menus" -- is this just a menu bar?
>
> My original question:
>
> One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
> the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
> the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?
>
> Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
> standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.
>
> -=- Jerome
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jenni Merrifield
> Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 9:30 AM
> Cc: Jerome Ryckborst
> Subject: Office or Vista - That is the Question
>
> Yesterday, the following message came in on a local, but low bandwidth, UE
> list I'm on:
>
> One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
> the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
> the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?
>
> Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
> standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.
>
> I thought the question might get more traction here, seeing as the IxDA
> list has a much larger membership. I've CC'd Jerome, the original poster,
> who you might want to include on any replies as I don't know if he's on this
> list.
>
> :-j(enni)
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> *Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
> February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
> Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

--
Thanks,
Jeff
________________________________________________________________________________
Jeff Axup, Ph.D.
Principal Consultant, Mobile Community Design Consulting, San Diego

Research: Mobile Group Research Methods, Social Networks, Group Usability
E-mail: axup <at> userdesign.com
Blog: http://mobilecommunitydesign.com
Moblog: http://memeaddict.blogspot.com

"Designers mine the raw bits of tomorrow. They shape them for the present
day." - Bruce Sterling
________________________________________________________________________________

11 Dec 2007 - 6:16pm
Katie Albers
2005

At the moment Vista has a very low adoption rate and a very high "Oh,
my God -- let's go back to Windows!" rate...So, I think that at this
point it makes a lot of sense to stick with the Windows
standards...generally speaking.

However, if you're building an internal app for a group that will be
required to use Vista then, I'd use the Vista standards....and...

If there's anything in the Vista standard that you think is done
better than it's done in the Windows standards, you might want to
take this chance to incorporate it.

...or you can design for another operating system all together: *nix,
OSX, CP/M ;-)

kt

At 10:50 AM -0800 12/11/07, Jerome Ryckborst wrote:
>Thanks, Jennifer, and hello, all; I've just joined your list.
>
>I'm wondering if the ribbon is a solution for a large (overly
>complex) set of features where the speed of user performance is not
>a primary design driver?
>
>Also, I don't yet have Vista installed on my computer, so I confess
>I'm not really sure what my Dev team (which is 16 hours ahead in
>Australia; I'm in Canada) means when they say "Vista menus" -- is
>this just a menu bar?
>
>My original question:
>
> One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
> the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
> the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?
>
> Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
> standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.
>
>-=- Jerome
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Jenni Merrifield
>Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 9:30 AM
>Cc: Jerome Ryckborst
>Subject: Office or Vista - That is the Question
>
>Yesterday, the following message came in on a local, but low
>bandwidth, UE list I'm on:
>
> One of my design teams is asking me: "Should we follow
> the Office standard of the ribbon, the Vista standard of
> the drop-down menu (menu bar), or a hybrid of the two?
>
> Wow, just what I always wanted: a vague question about
> standards that has no right answer and huge consequences.
>
>I thought the question might get more traction here, seeing as the
>IxDA list has a much larger membership. I've CC'd Jerome, the
>original poster, who you might want to include on any replies as I
>don't know if he's on this list.
>
>:-j(enni)
>
>________________________________________________________________
>*Come to IxDA Interaction08 | Savannah*
>February 8-10, 2008 in Savannah, GA, USA
>Register today: http://interaction08.ixda.org/
>
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
>List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
>List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

--

----------------
Katie Albers
katie at firstthought.com

11 Dec 2007 - 6:29pm
bminihan
2007

Might be better to classify Office's old icon toolbars as intermediate aids,
since experts I have observed (admin assistants, typists, etc) have most of
the common toolbar action keystrokes memorized, and only use the toolbar and
text menu for items that don't have an shortcut key, or whose key isn't
obvious.

At any rate, your statement is still true, but perhaps the above (if you
provide shortcut keys) will mitigate the loss from switching to ribbons.

I just got Office 2007 myself, and appreciate the improved information
architecture, although I think displaying 15 different cell-box styles right
there in the ribbon makes Excel 2007 seem more feature-rich than it really
is (I rarely use pre-built styles, but have begun using theirs more, which I
guess is a win for Microsoft =]).

Bryan
http://www.bryanminihan.com

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Jeff
Axup
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2007 6:10 PM
To: Jerome Ryckborst
Cc: discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] FW: Office or Vista - That is the Question

The toolbars were an advanced user feature, which
supported very rapid activation - IF you could remember what the icon meant,
and you could click the small button, and the function you wanted was there
to begin with. I've often spend long periods of time (in old menu-style
apps) trying to find features in menus that I knew must be there, but with
several levels of embedding, and no graphical cues they can be very hard to
find and remember the location of.

11 Dec 2007 - 6:43pm
Hussein Ahmed8
2007

Supporting Katie's words about Vista, I think its ridiculous to even
look for Microsoft as an Idol of usability. The real professionals in
my opinion are Apple. I am a Mac fan and I admire Mac OS-X menus and
toolbars.
If you didn't have this great experience, Apple goes for large
"meaningful" icons that are "clearly labeled". The toolbars also
have extensive customization and thorough design of the default
options shown.

For Office 2007, Microsoft was "just" thinking of novice, new users
and if you are an experienced user, then get lost. You won't imagine
that I spent really considerable time to figure out where is the File
menu.

Of course, if you will be launching an application late enough to
keep some time for Microsoft to mind program the world then this
would be Ok if not then please don't torture more people.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=23403

12 Dec 2007 - 6:50am
Bruno Figueiredo
2007

I have been using Office 2007 and to be honest, I like the new ribbon.
It kind of makes more sense and the frequently used buttons are bigger
so they're easier to select. About Vista, well, it has some nice
features but looks otherwise unpolished. And the dialogs demanding
authorization every time, what a nightmare! Who the hell had that
idea in the first place?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23403

12 Dec 2007 - 11:03am
Michael Micheletti
2006

I agree with you Katie, with one exception: if the company is a small
software vendor with a strategic partnership with Microsoft, then doing the
whole Office 2007 Ribbon thing may get your program shown off by a very
large distributed Microsoft sales team. If I was deciding based upon
usability and user acceptance, traditional Windows-style wins, but there may
be business reasons for a small vendor to go the other way. Large well-known
software houses, specialist leaders in their verticals, web shops, or
in-house work can probably safely ignore the '07 Ribbon forever - it's only
the little software startups on the edge who may want to take the dare and
hope that the Microsoft sales force benefit outweighs the '07 Ribbon
annoyance.

Michael Micheletti

On Dec 11, 2007 3:16 PM, Katie Albers <katie at firstthought.com> wrote:

> At the moment Vista has a very low adoption rate and a very high "Oh,
> my God -- let's go back to Windows!" rate...So, I think that at this
> point it makes a lot of sense to stick with the Windows
> standards...generally speaking.

12 Dec 2007 - 11:09am
vcagwin
2007

My team just finished a project were we implemented the Ribbon bar using
the DotNetBar Suite: http://www.devcomponents.com/dotnetbar/.

We are currently conducting training sessions and I haven't seen any
major problems besides the file menu. No one wants to click on it.
Hmmm... maybe because all your other features are clearly pointed out on
the ribbon, so why hide others under a big round button?

The contextual ribbons which only appear when certain items are selected
are great. I have noticed if you include more than 2 sub-tabs within a
contextual ribbon it causes some confusion as to which features appear
on which tab.

I will warn you that it took a LONG time to organize everything
correctly. Some users would get very annoyed from having to click back
and forth between the tabs. Try to keep items that they use frequently
on the main tab to avoid this.

12 Dec 2007 - 2:29pm
Loren Baxter
2007

I made the switch to Office 2007 and have found the ribbon to work, on
the whole, better than the old file menus. The round File Menu button
is probably the worst part, and while confusing at first, did not take
long to learn. Microsoft certainly should have rethought the
placement and styling of that button to make it clearer what's in
there.

With that being said, they have added one accelerator that I think is
a great idea. The user can scroll through the ribbon's tabs using
the mouse wheel if they hover over the general area. Used properly,
this reduces clicks through the tabs and makes it easier to
"browse" through the available features with little commitment in
terms of action. I wonder how this works for most other users and
whether it improves their experience.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://gamma.ixda.org/discuss?post=23403

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