Hi. I’m Rich, chairman of the GoobNet SPEED. Earlier this year, we began our programme of helping Microsoft improve the user interfaces of the major Office programmes. We are taking no position on the merits and drawbacks of the ribbon as opposed to dropdown menus [except to point out that no other software manufacturers have copied the ribbon – imagine that]. Instead, we are examining the way that commands are laid out and grouped, and whether it is easy for users to find commands that they are looking for.
Previously, Jhonny fixed the E-mail message windows in Outlook, and Nina fixed Powerpoint. This week, Wen fixes Word.
Hi, Microsoft. I’m Wen, and I will be helping you get the most out of the Word user interface. Currently, it is difficult to be getting the most out of Word, because commands that used to be right next to each other, like Drop Cap and Text Direction on the Format menu, are now in completely different places [the Insert tab and the wacky Format Whatever Type of Object You Selected randomly appearing tab respectively].
Your argument will be that users who are new to Microsoft programmes will not look for those commands in the same place. I disagree, because making the first letter of the paragraph a drop capital and changing the text direction are both formatting capabilities; you are taking text that has already been typed and changing the way it is formatted.
Furthermore, you went to all that trouble to make that new Mailings tab and promote it to the same level as laying out the page and reviewing the document, when very few of us actually use the mail merge functions. It is a second tier capability receiving first tier billing.
And that is the key. A user interface must be flexible, because different people have different needs and different ways of using your programmes. So with that in mind, I have placed several commands in multiple places, as Jhonny and Nina already have.
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