One of the questions people ask about the new user interface is “how much training is required to get up to speed?”
Well, our design goal was to require no training at all. From the earliest prototypes, we were trying to design an experience so that people could sit down in front of Office 2007 and be effective right away at getting their work done. One of the reasons we didn’t go more radical on the overall design was that we wanted to make the product comfortable to use–after all, at the end of the day, it’s still Microsoft Office.
The design of the Home tab of each app, which contains many of the familiar features from the old Standard and Formatting toolbars, is a nod to trying to ensure a level of comfort. This is something we were watching carefully in each of the long-term deployments of Office 12 Beta 1 and again as part of the process of rolling out many companies around the world on Beta 2. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m optimistic that we have achieved that level of “first-hour comfort” across the basic feature set. The few things that did cause roadblocks with early users (such as the placement of a View menu down on the status bar) we repaired in later designs (in this case, by including a View tab in the Ribbon.)
Nonetheless, as with many things in life, the more you know, the more successful you’ll be. And so while training won’t be a requirement for rolling out Office 2007, some of the early deployments have suggested that having everyone watch a 12-minute video before they start using the product (in this case, the Julie and me video) helped people feel more confident and productive.
Undoubtedly, some companies will want to do even more to help their employees get the most out of the investments in Office 2007, and we will have many resources available to help with that transition.
Within the product team, we wanted to put our little spin on the concept of training materials. We started with this idea: If we had the ability to put one sheet of paper on every person’s desk right before they first used Office 2007, what would we want it to say?
Below, you’ll find a link to the one-page document we created. It was designed to give people a primer on a few of the concepts behind the new UI without pointing out any of the obvious things that we know from usability people find on their own. (For instance, there’s no need to say “click on tabs in the Ribbon” because we know that 100% will successfully discover that on their own.) We also added a few “tips and tricks” which we thought people would find useful.
I added the restriction that the document should not be longer than one piece of paper (kind of like creating a good resume) and we wanted it to have pictures, so we really had to prioritize what to include and how to say it in the minimal number of words.
You can download our “welcome” document below. If you find it useful, feel free to duplicate and/or reproduce it as you see fit.