Beyond Menus and Toolbars in Office


Beyond Menus and Toolbars in Microsoft Office by Jensen Harris.  I know from many of my conversations that you are eager to understand the new "Ribbon" user interface (UI).  So, I thought I'd share this presentation. Jensen Harris, the lead UI designer for the Office UI suite.  He gave this presentation to a community before the product was finished.  While I think it really a surprise that we were talking about at that time, I'm really jazzed that we did.  It is atypical of us to to discuss a product before launch. But as per the quote from the session", alongside the serious risk of completely redoing a core product, and giving all the design control to a team of user experience designers, we need to open the black box and explaining it to the community".

Jensen's blog also details the design strategy so far at: http://blogs.msdn.com/jensenh.

Check out  the personation at:http://www.baychi.org/calendar/20051213/

Would it be worthwhile to see if we can get some of the team up here to chat?

Thanks,

John


Comments (2)

  1. Qixing Zheng says:

    Hi all,

    I actually attended the live presentation Jensen gave at one of the Vancouver User Experience events earlier this year. The talk was great, and people were so excited about the new Office UI that the Q&A session was three times longer than the actual talk.  

    Like everyone else, I was really surprised by how different the new office UI looks. The “long-lived” menus and “unpredictable” toolbars are finally gone! My biggest complain about Office tools has always been the hierarchical menus. The features in them are bloated, with too many available options that are not related to users’ specific tasks.  Many useful features are buried deep in the hierarchy (e.g. web discussions in Word), which makes it hard to remember which menu item a particular feature belongs to.

    The new Office UI tackled the above problems with “Ribbon” and “Contextual Tabs” designs. I remember from the talk that some high level rationales for the designs are:

    1.Users should focus on context and the tasks at hand not the UI. “Contextual Tabs” organize the features according to possible user tasks so that users won’t be distracted by unrelated features, which improve their productivity.

    2.Encourage users to discover more features (most users only use 5% of current Office features). “Ribbon” can contain different types of objects such as buttons, galleries, and dialog boxes, which allow users to view all the available options at the same time.

    3.Give features a permanent home (i.e. “Ribbon”) which means to have consistent locations for features on the user interface rather than having an adaptive UI.

    Besides major UI components such as “Ribbon” and “Contextual Tabs,” I also like the small changes the design team made to improve Office usability such as the “super tooltip.” It hosts both text and images. One cool thing I remember from the demo is that the tooltips contain links to the help file. This clever design makes help files more accessible and saves users’ the effort of searching help for more information on a feature.

    Some of the interesting questions came out of the talk include:

    1.How would the expert Office users like the new UI since there’s less customization flexibility?

    2.What are the file formats for the new Office tools? XML is used as the default file format for the new version of Office.

    3.How does the new UI better support collaboration in Office tools?

    Qixing (CanUX Candidate)

  2. qixingz says:

    Hi all,

    I actually attended the live presentation Jensen gave at one of the

    Vancouver User Experience events earlier this year. The talk was

    great, and people were so excited about the new Office UI that the Q&A

    session was three times longer than the actual talk.

    Like everyone else, I was really surprised by how different the new

    office UI looks. The "long-lived" menus and "unpredictable" toolbars

    are finally gone! My biggest complain about Office tools has always

    been the hierarchical menus. The features in them are bloated, with

    too many available options that are not related to users’ specific

    tasks.  Many useful features are buried deep in the hierarchy (e.g.

    web discussions in Word), which makes it hard to remember which menu

    item a particular feature belongs to.

    The new Office UI tackled the above problems with "Ribbon" and

    "Contextual Tabs" designs. I remember from the talk that some high

    level rationales for the designs are:

    1.Users should focus on context and the tasks at hand not the UI.

    "Contextual Tabs" organize the features according to possible user

    tasks so that users won’t be distracted by unrelated features, which

    improve their productivity.

    2.Encourage users to discover more features (most users only use 5%

    of current Office features). "Ribbon" can contain different types of

    objects such as buttons, galleries, and dialog boxes, which allow

    users to view all the available options at the same time.

    3.Give features a permanent home (i.e. "Ribbon") which means to have

    consistent locations for features on the user interface rather than

    having an adaptive UI.

    Besides major UI components such as "Ribbon" and "Contextual Tabs," I

    also like the small changes the design team made to improve Office

    usability such as the "super tooltip." It hosts both text and images.

    One cool thing I remember from the demo is that the tooltips contain

    links to the help file. This clever design makes help files more

    accessible and saves users’ the effort of searching help for more

    information on a feature.

    Some of the interesting questions came out of the talk include:

    1.How would the expert Office users like the new UI since there’s

    less customization flexibility?

    2.What are the file formats for the new Office tools? XML is used as

    the default file format for the new version of Office.

    3.How does the new UI better support collaboration in Office tools?

    Qixing (CanUX Advisor Candidate)

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