Office 2007 in 2006, two years later

31 Oct 2008 - 3:38pm
5 years ago
15 replies
581 reads
jan cohen
2007

Back toward the end of 2006, there was some fairly favorable discussion about the changes in Office 2007's GUI's (ref. http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=12762). It's two years later now, and at least one segment of users that I know has a lot of mixed feelings about those changes. Specifically, technical communicators. Indeed, since Office 2007 was introduced, add-ons like AddInTools' Classic Menus for Office 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/36thmw) were introduced to offset what might be considered usability issues with the new version of Office; and Microsoft themselves have introduced Flash-based online help tools mapping the functionality between Office's older and newer GUIs (e.g., http://tinyurl.com/y85r6y). In that thousands of hours of usability work apparently went into Office 2007 before its introduction, what do you folks think... was the effort successful, is it more a matter of the demographics (personas?) associated with folks like, e.g.,
technical communicators?

Btw, I'm a technical communicator myself, anal when I have to be. But I wouldn't consider myself stereotypically anal 8^)

Jan C.

Comments

31 Oct 2008 - 7:43pm
SemanticWill
2007

Some might have been favorable - I thought the Office 2007 redesign was
terrible - so much so that as soon as I could afford it, I bought a Mac -
Specifically b/c of the redesigned GUI in Office 07 - and mostly b/c of the
ribbon.

On Fri, Oct 31, 2008 at 4:38 PM, Jan Cohen <najnehoc at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Back toward the end of 2006, there was some fairly favorable discussion
> about the changes in Office 2007's GUI's (ref.
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss.php?post=12762). It's two years later now,
> and at least one segment of users that I know has a lot of mixed feelings
> about those changes. Specifically, technical communicators. Indeed, since
> Office 2007 was introduced, add-ons like AddInTools' Classic Menus for
> Office 2007 (http://tinyurl.com/36thmw) were introduced to offset what
> might be considered usability issues with the new version of Office; and
> Microsoft themselves have introduced Flash-based online help tools mapping
> the functionality between Office's older and newer GUIs (e.g.,
> http://tinyurl.com/y85r6y). In that thousands of hours of usability work
> apparently went into Office 2007 before its introduction, what do you folks
> think... was the effort successful, is it more a matter of the demographics
> (personas?) associated with folks like, e.g.,
> technical communicators?
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: semanticwill
twitter: semanticwill
skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1 Nov 2008 - 12:06am
Krystal Higgins
2008

Personally, I've learned to live with it, mostly by virtue of
right-click menus (some increased functionality in Office 2007 Word
and PPT, which I have to use for the occasional company presentation,
is what encouraged me to upgrade in the first place).

Certainly adoption should not be based on "this is what we have and
deal with it" shoehorning, but that seems to be the way with Windows
and MS apps. But I never thought the original UI was good enough to
warrant installing a plugin to call back the old layout.

I do work with technical and press writers who have gone back to 2003
after getting frustrated with the 2007 interface, however.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

2 Nov 2008 - 12:40am
martinpolley
2007

The Ribbon means it takes me more clicks to do just about anything. Sorry,
fail.

On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 2:43 AM, Will Evans <will at semanticfoundry.com> wrote:

> Some might have been favorable - I thought the Office 2007 redesign was
> terrible - so much so that as soon as I could afford it, I bought a Mac -
> Specifically b/c of the redesigned GUI in Office 07 - and mostly b/c of the
> ribbon.

--
Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

1 Nov 2008 - 7:47pm
Chris Ryan
2004

I've been curious, since the release of Office 2008, whether the
absence of the "ribbon" is due to a reconsideration of its value,
or simply the result of a different group within Microsoft having
developed the suite for Mac OS X.

Regardless, I'm not sure what the Mac Business Unit at MS might have
been up to between 2004 and 2008. Very little has changed, and the
integration with OS X is so poor (it often feels like you're working
on a different platform) that I avoid using it whenever possible.
iWork is a joy to use, in comparison.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

2 Nov 2008 - 1:35pm
SemanticWill
2007

Office 08 for Mac OS X is developed by a completely different team
than the Office team for Windows.

On Sat, Nov 1, 2008 at 7:47 PM, Chris Ryan
<interactiondesign at redrooffs.com> wrote:
> I've been curious, since the release of Office 2008, whether the
> absence of the "ribbon" is due to a reconsideration of its value,
> or simply the result of a different group within Microsoft having
> developed the suite for Mac OS X.
>
> Regardless, I'm not sure what the Mac Business Unit at MS might have
> been up to between 2004 and 2008. Very little has changed, and the
> integration with OS X is so poor (it often feels like you're working
> on a different platform) that I avoid using it whenever possible.
> iWork is a joy to use, in comparison.
>

--
~ will

"Where you innovate, how you innovate,
and what you innovate are design problems"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Will Evans | User Experience Architect
tel: +1.617.281.1281 | will at semanticfoundry.com
aim: semanticwill
gtalk: semanticwill
twitter: semanticwill
skype: semanticwill
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

2 Nov 2008 - 1:45pm
Chris Ryan
2004

Yes, Will, I know; that's why I wrote that I didn't know whether the
absence of the ribbon from Office 2008 was "the result of a different
group within Microsoft having developed the suite for Mac OS X." I
tend to think that the software is better in general for having been
done by the Mac BU (does anyone remember the Word 6 port from
Windows?), but it's still nowhere near a standard Mac user
experience.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

2 Nov 2008 - 3:31pm
Yohan Creemers
2008

I like the fact that Microsoft dared to change the interface so
rigorously. The old interface with menus and toolbars wasn't perfect
either.
I guess that the ribbon is helping new and even intermediate users.
But as a expert user I'm missing the fast overview a classic menu
offers. I think the ribbon is a good concept, but too rigidly applied
in the case of Office 2007. Some of the functions, like the advanced
paragraph properties, don't fit within the concept and require a
different interface design.

I would say that it's possible to combine the benefits of the ribbon
with the benefits of a classic menu.

By the way: Jan, thanks for the link to Classic Menus Add In...

- Yohan

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

2 Nov 2008 - 7:00pm
Jeff Stevenson
2007

Chris,

The Mac Business Unit explains some of their rationale for the UI in
this blog post:

http://www.officeformac.com/blog/evolution-at-work

...and other posts tagged with "Usability" and "Office 2008 User
Experience".

Basically, it's the second option you said. They see the value of
the Ribbon, but they felt the UI on the Mac version was already
headed a different direction.

I'm curious what, specifically, feels like poor integration with OS
X?

For example, the version of Office 2008 that I bought came with a
Microsoft application for photo management, and I worried that I
would need to use their app if I wanted to easily integrate photos
into my Office docs. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that all
the Office apps have visibility into my iPhoto, iTunes, and iMovie
libraries for importing media into my documents. So I'm just curious
where you felt let down.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

3 Nov 2008 - 12:36pm
Jose E.
2008

I bought Office 2007 as soon as was available and haven't look back.
The Ribbon UI is the best thing that could happened to the Microsoft
Office Suit.
Works for me, but I know most of the people dislike it a lot.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

3 Nov 2008 - 3:01pm
Anonymous

What I find most interesting about this question is how interface
changes/"enhancements" affect an entrenched user base. It's the
balance between old users and new users and an existing mental model
vs. a new one. I'm all for a better interface - but I find myself
still stalled using things I used to be totally comfortable with in
Word like Table tools and Drawing tools. I'm currently working on a
"new and improved" EAP product suite for my company. We are making
radical changes including adding in a ribbon. As the lone User
Experience person I keep voicing my concerns that we'll have low
adoption from existing users simply BECAUSE the new UI is so
different.

It's sort of conundrum. The original UI was designed by the
"inmates in the asylum" so its horrible - I want to radically
improve it - but users have learned it. The ratio of existing users
to new users is approximately 8 to 1 so there are many more who
already know the product.

What do you all think? How do you balance making it better with what
users already know?

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

3 Nov 2008 - 7:10pm
M S
2006

I personally think that new UI for the Office 2007 is a great idea.
Yes, I had to readjust to new controls and their location, but after a
little while I get used to it and look back at Office 2003 like it's a
nightmare.

You can really innovate much without breaking "backward" compatibility
and this change was worth it all.
--
Maxim Soloviev
Director of Product Development
www.nakea.net

3 Nov 2008 - 9:08pm
cfmdesigns
2004

A couple thoughts come to mind here:

* Is it true that there's an 8-to-1 ratio of existing users to (potential) new users. That is, there will never be more than about 10% of the existing base having to learn it in the future? If so, it may not be worth trying to institute change, because you've got a super-mature, effectively dead (stagnant) product. If there's no one new coming in, there's little value in forcing new paradigms on the users. (On the other hand, if that added 10% is just the immediate new user base, and it will grow from there such that new users will eventually exceed current numbers, you can make a better business case.)

* Have you done research as to what the breadth of feature usage is? If the current UI is regressive, or if there are a lot of features which are seldom accessed, then the ribbon-type UI might either have low impact on the majority of existing users (because they don't use many of the feature to start with) and could serve to open up some of the otherwise ignored features to a new audience.

* Have you done research about what annoys current users -- especially the intermediate and above users? You may find that they feel limited or inhibited by the current UI and would actually welcome a new paradigm, even with a learning ramp. (I can think of a few apps that are like that, even some that I actively avoid using and do things "the hard way" to avoid them.)

-- Jim, Seattle

-----Original Message-----
>From: Lois Lewis <loiskarrlewis at gmail.com>
>
>What I find most interesting about this question is how interface
>changes/"enhancements" affect an entrenched user base. It's the
>balance between old users and new users and an existing mental model
>vs. a new one. I'm all for a better interface - but I find myself
>still stalled using things I used to be totally comfortable with in
>Word like Table tools and Drawing tools. I'm currently working on a
>"new and improved" EAP product suite for my company. We are making
>radical changes including adding in a ribbon. As the lone User
>Experience person I keep voicing my concerns that we'll have low
>adoption from existing users simply BECAUSE the new UI is so
>different.
>
>It's sort of conundrum. The original UI was designed by the
>"inmates in the asylum" so its horrible - I want to radically
>improve it - but users have learned it. The ratio of existing users
>to new users is approximately 8 to 1 so there are many more who
>already know the product.
>
>What do you all think? How do you balance making it better with what
>users already know?

4 Nov 2008 - 7:39am
Jose E.
2008

The "new" products are always used by "new" users; that means the
users that are right now working their way on Office 2003 will stay
there till something happens; like change their PCs or Macs.

The new users like the young people that will enter in college this
year will be using Office 2007 and will be happy with it.

@Lois: Your users will be using the old versions of your product till
they feel the need to change; and when that happens they have to learn
the new UI.

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Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167

5 Nov 2008 - 10:03am
usabilitymedic
2008

A classic menus add in? I guess I missed that email. Can someone
please forward again?

The absence of an ability for advanced, 17 year-users to elect to use
the interface that they are familiar with is my biggest issue.

Years ago, when Lotus moved from a command-based interface to a GUI
interface, users had the ability to easily invoke the old command
structure. This enabled us to maintain our productivity when that was
critical and learn the new interface at our own pace...and to decide
for ourselves which worked best for us for whicht tasks.

The fact that a similar, simple mechanism was not built into Office
2007 was a blatant disregard for the existing user base. My
productivity went down in excess of 25%.

One of my most memorable examples is the Paste Special function (while
using Excel). I am an avid user of keyboard shortcuts for the most
common features. Thus, when I paste (regular paste), I use the
keyboard shortcut. So, there would be no reason for me to take notice
of a Paste button for 99% if my paste needs.

However, I needed to use Paste Special one time and I know there is no
keyboard shortcut for it so I needed go to into the Paste realm and
find it within there.

It took my about 7 minutes. Once I found it I thought, "People would
think I'm an idiot for not seeing that big button.". But here's why I
looked at everything else but that button.

The first of the 2007 products I was exposed to was Outlook. In
Outlook, I noticed a new, big Send button. "Ok that makles sense.", I
thought.

But in Excel, a program that I know to also have a Send capability,
that same button, in that same position, means Paste. So, I
completely overlooked it thinking it was a Send button and went on a
wild goose chase.

Microsoft is too big of an organization to not take their huge, long-
standing, user base's needs into serious consideration when embarking
on such a massive change.

My 2 cents... Or was that $20 worth? :)

Thanks for anyone that can toss me the quickest link to the add in.

Sent from my iPhone

On Nov 2, 2008, at 12:31 PM, Yohan Creemers <yohan at ylab.nl> wrote:

> I like the fact that Microsoft dared to change the interface so
> rigorously. The old interface with menus and toolbars wasn't perfect
> either.
> I guess that the ribbon is helping new and even intermediate users.
> But as a expert user I'm missing the fast overview a classic menu
> offers. I think the ribbon is a good concept, but too rigidly applied
> in the case of Office 2007. Some of the functions, like the advanced
> paragraph properties, don't fit within the concept and require a
> different interface design.
>
> I would say that it's possible to combine the benefits of the ribbon
> with the benefits of a classic menu.
>
> By the way: Jan, thanks for the link to Classic Menus Add In...
>
> - Yohan
>
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=35167
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
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5 Nov 2008 - 2:00pm
martinpolley
2007

This doesn't take into account users in most corporate environments, who
will get their software upgraded when the company sees fit, whether they
like it or not.

Cheers,

Martin Polley
Technical writer, interaction designer
+972 52 3864280
Twitter: martinpolley
<http://capcloud.com/>

On Tue, Nov 4, 2008 at 2:39 PM, Jose E. <tank6b at gmail.com> wrote:

> The "new" products are always used by "new" users; that means the
> users that are right now working their way on Office 2003 will stay
> there till something happens; like change their PCs or Macs.
> ...
>

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