Welcome to the New User Interface


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.


Download “Welcome to the New Office User Interface” (Word format)


Download “Welcome to the New Office User Interface” (PDF format)

Comments (51)

  1. Dan Dautrich says:

    Yep, that about sums up the new interface, and it’s short and simple.  Maybe you can have it displayed during or after installation of the Office suite?

  2. Stefan KZVB says:

    That sheet of paper will be very useful if you decide to roll out Office 2007 to a wohole company on a single day.

    But now something technical:

    I just copied every picture from your DOC to PhotoEditor, saved it as PNG and then inserted it back to your document in Word 2000 using Insert Picture/From File. After saving the file size of the doc decreased from 604KB to 485KB. Couldn’t Word just convert automatically to PNG when saving the file to reduce the file size?

    And one other thing: Will there be an easy-to-use replacement for PhotoEditor to do such simple tasks in Office 2007?

  3. Just about says it all…for Word.  When it comes to Word and Excel, I’m completely sold.  My ramp up time was minutes.

    Honestly, I’d like to see one for Outlook.  I’m still deciding whether Outlook has become better or just busier, but I rather suspect that a similar attempt for Outlook would run at least two pages.

  4. Christian says:

    Mmmhm, one page A4 for every user?

    Make it like the back of the Hitchhikers guide:

    Write in big, friendly letters "DON’T PANIC" 😉

  5. tino says:

    Could it be so simple? Yes!

    Good work. Thanks.

  6. Thanks for this video. It gave me a better view of office 2007.

  7. Ben C. Kirk says:

    Hi Jensen, fellow blog-followers,

    I’m a little surprised that you are providing a quick reference guide so soon. Does that mean that the UI is final? I thought the whole purpose of the Beta 2 was to get lots of feedback on the UI before finalising the design.

    For example, I think that you may have forgotten a particular button on the Home tab of the ribbon: the "New" button. Or am I missing something. I had to record a macro, and assign it to a button on the QAT to be able to simply create a new document in one click (and I couldn’t change the button image to anything but one of the built-in 20 or so icons).

    It seems to me unlikely that your Customer Experience Improvement program wouldn’t have indicated that people click that good ole New button all the time to start a new file.

    I must be missing something.

  8. Gav says:

    I like it.  A really good design goal.

    And the one page summary, you nearly pulled it off.

    The problem with the summary is that many of the non-technical users will not understand all the terminology.  I know plenty of users where words like "Ribbon", "Contextual Tabs", would stop them reading any further with the fear that they will not understand it.  I suggest the headings are more aligned with what users may wish to acheive.  

  9. Stefan KZVB says:

    Hello,

    I also use the "New"-button in the old Office and even the Open, Save, Print and E-Mail-to buttons. I know you can attach them to the QAT. But there really should be buttons in the ribbon for that by default!!

    In the company we also use a customized "Print only current page" button, which we located next to the Print-Button. Since the Print-Button is now in the QAT and the QAT is not developer-customizable, this would not be possible with Office 2007. ;-((

  10. Harsh BOlia says:

    I am reading all your blogs regarding office 2007.Really the new look is very user friendly.

    Coult u please illustrate adding add-ins to the contextual tabs…

  11. Mark Steward says:

    Ben C Kirk – customize the Quick Access Toolbar, and under "Commands Not in the Ribbon" or "All Commands", find "New Document in Most Recent Format".  Then add it.  It seems to me to be a bit of a minority command (it’s more common to choose what you’re writing before you write it).  It also has a keyboard shortcut, Ctrl+N, if you "just want to start typing".

  12. pli says:

    Hi Jensen,

    Has it occurred to you that the term "user interface" is actually a technical term to most people?  It’s a term we in the computer industry use everyday, but many regular computer users don’t know (at least not immediately) what it means.

    This didn’t occur to me until I saw this term translated into my native language and seeing how awkward it is to see it sprinkled everywhere on Microsoft’s website (and websites of other software companies).

  13. Wictor Wilen says:

    As Microsoft OneNote 2007 will be a part of the Office Home and Student 2007 suite OneNote will and

  14. Shruti says:

    Wouldn’t it make sense to not have a zip file for a doc and a pdf? The point of downloading such available formats is ease. I don’t want to unzip a file and then read it. I want to read it. Period.

  15. scott says:

    > 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.

    Training is not required but if you don’t institute any training your workers will be confused and less productive.

  16. Ron says:

    Two technical comments on the "welcome" sheet:

    1. The print area uses up most of the width of a US letter-size paper — a bit too wide for us in A4land.

    2. The zippied files only save 8% (pdf) or 5% (word), hardly worth the annoyance factor.

  17. Jeff says:

    So, Pli, what would you call it?

    Ron, ditto on the ZIP files.  I suppose it saves a bit of money for MS, but it’s a tad annoying that I had to send the document direct to my Mum instead of just linking it.  30% OK, but 5%, why bother.

  18. Mike says:

    In the webcast yesterday for Office 2007, the presenter mentioned the UI choices were made from data collected through the customer experience improvement program.  For many reasons, I’ve always turned this feature off – I’m not really all that hip on having anyone snoop on what I’m doing, not to mention the increased (even if minimally) network traffic, and, finally, having yet one more service that might crash.  Add to this the number of Office XP users, and I have to wonder how useful their data really are.  Basically, the majority – if not all – of their data are from users who don’t know how to customize Office.  To me this would be like collecting data on drivers by interviewing only those involved in traffic accidents (in that it skews the sample).  My overriding complaint with the UI is that lack of *ready* customization.  Why can’t I adjust the height, for example?  Or have it display either text or icons only?  More importantly, why am I stuck with only those features, in only a certain order, that has been pre-ordained for me?  I almost NEVER use the format painter, yet it’s the in the first group of tools.  I see absolutely no reason for locking down the ribbon so tightly that users cannot rearrange the order and content.  I like the way it works, and the contextuality, but every user is not the same and there needs to be away, outside of requiring users to learn .NET, to be able to customize the ribbon.  I realize it’s unlikely, but I *hope* this can provided before the first RC.

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  22. The video you guys made is great, and something that I think every Office user should be given the opportunity to watch the first time they open Office 2007. But you should re-record Jenny’s part before RTM. She speaks way to dang fast, and it sounds stiff and underplanned. She needs to loosen up and speak slower, or you guys should probably get someone else to do it.

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