Giving You Fitts

One of the most well-understood and salient principles underlying the ergonomics of graphical user interface design is Fitts’ Law. Named for Paul Fitts, a psychologist at Ohio State University, Fitts’ Law is a mathematical model of fine motor control which predicts how long it takes to move from one position to another as a function…

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Iterative Design Process Applied to Charting

I know I seldom do two posts in a day, but in addition to Rich’s guest article, I wanted to point to a very interesting article Sander, one of our designers, wrote on the Excel blog. The article is focused around the charting experience, but he posted some of the screenshots of the early prototypes we…

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Usability: Art and Science

Yesterday morning we were sitting in the office of one of our usability researchers watching some DVCAM tapes from tests conducted a few weeks ago. We had a discussion that got me thinking about a set of tests we ran several years ago to determine the discoverability characteristics of contextual tabs. At the time, contextual…

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The Spelling Check is Complete

Yesterday, I mentioned the new contextual spelling feature that is part of Office 2007. Writing the post reminded me of a story from years past… One of the things we’ve tried to do from time to time is reduce the number of modal alerts that pop up as part of working with Office. Most people…

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Catching the Plane

One of the most challenging aspects of developing the new UI has been making sure that everything ends up loaded into the airplane before it takes off. Confused? Let me explain. Sometimes I think about shipping Office like an airplane taking off. Our job is to load up the plane with the right passengers, the…

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Designing Against a Degrading Experience

I’m sure many of you have experienced being the “one who knows about computers.” In social and family situations this often means having to help to fix, clean up, or otherwise restore a computer experience which has fallen into disrepair. There are a million reasons software experiences can degrade: unintended installation of add-ins or spyware…

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Not So Set In Our Ways After All

Back in the article “Set In Our Ways?” I talked about one of the design issues we were thinking about at the time–namely, whether or not it was OK sometimes to break commands out of a set. In particular, we were thinking about the Mini Toolbar which comes up on selection and as part of…

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Prototyping With PowerPoint

A couple of weeks ago when I talked about The Feature Bob Invented, I mentioned that we use PowerPoint as an easy way to prototype UI, especially in the early stages of design. A number of people have asked me for more details, and so today I thought I’d go through it step-by-step. We use…

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Set In Our Ways?

Today, just thinking aloud… A minor design conundrum we face is as follows: based on the data we collect, we can see that within certain sets of related features, some of them are used much more frequently than others. Should we ever act on this data by showing only the most-used features in a set?…

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Flea Market of Functionality

Last Monday, I set out a simple brain teaser for the Word gurus out there. I listed a number of seemingly unrelated features in Word 2003 and asked the question “what do these have in common?” John Topley got the answer I was looking for in the very first comment to Monday’s post: all of…

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