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Office 2007: UI for “power users”? March 15, 2006

Posted by Thomas in General, Tech & Science.

There’s an interesting addition to the Office 2007 Quick Access Toolbar, discussed on Jensen Harris’ blog.

I consider myself fairly knowledgable regarding the various Office apps, but by no means a power user. I’m just not in Word/Excel/Powerpoint often enough, so I haven’t developed any nit-picky UI preferences or anything (other than moving the Font toolbar onto it’s own row from the New/Open/Save toolbar row).

While I think the Ribbon is one of the most innovative and brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time, I can understand where “power users” are coming from with their complaints about their lack of control and customization.

I can understand the Office team’s desire to reduce the amount of junk that piles up over time in the UI. I appreciate that the floating toolbars for images and tables eventually clogged the interface because users were afraid to close them for fear of not finding them again.

However, I can see why people want to have the ability to detach these groups into floating bars, so that they have less distance to travel with the mouse to reach a critical command.

Isn’t it possible to enable this? Here’s my logic:

The old default behavior was to pop a floating toolbar for images, tables, etc. and this resulted in UI clutter because users wouldn’t close them ever again and they would just float there with disabled icons.

The new behavior is to switch to contextual tabs when specific tools are needed for images and tables.

As a result, there will be NO/ZERO/ZIP UI clutter from users who are afraid to close floating toolbars. There are no more default floating toolbars.

Now that the problem is no longer the result of default Office behavior, can’t you always assume that any desire to have a floating toolbar is at the explicit request of the user, and that this is not clutter to be feared, but functionality to be embraced?



1. Amit | Web Design - May 18, 2009

With the new Office (the 2007) design, look & feel, Microsoft have made a giant leap. True that it takes time to get use to the new ribbon and to get around quickly.. But once you are familiar with it, you rock!

We do a lot of researches on the web, and using Excel macros,
we have improved our research speed in 30%. That huge!!

Using OneNote have improved our research information control (nothing get lost now) and with the sharing files abilities, now everyone can contribute to the project.

So to summary it all, we are more then happy with the tools that comes in the Office 2007.
We looking forward to the new one… 😉

With the SP2 support for open source files,
our CRM improved since we don’t have to “fight”
with our clients anymore 🙂

The 2007 was a great investment with benefits to us.

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