Thursday, February 09, 2012


Day two of usability training today and we had tremendous fun designing a user interface using a combination of paper, glue, post-it notes and index cards. It was a highly tactile experience and the training room ended up looking like an explosion in the Blue Peter studio. It's a methodology that turns our usual design process upside down, where we usually concentrate on shoe horning as much functionality into the system as possible rather than focussing on the key tasks that the typical user actually uses.

One very revealing slide was a bar graph showing a count of the number of functions available in Microsoft Word, starting with modest number in Word 1.0 to the hundreds now available in Word 2010, most of which most people never use. I have now reverted to using the plain simplicity of Google Docs for most of my word processing and spreadsheet work and rarely find things that I can't do. As an aside, does anybody like the 'Ribbon' interface or find it a useful way of grouping functions? Anyone? Bueller?

1 comment:

Luffer said...

The Ribbon is bloody aweful! I hope as a result of your usability training you will make stuff more useable?

So many applications these days just remove so much UI stuff that actually doing anything becomes a huge chore if you want to use anything even slightly out of the ordinary.

I've found new updates to applications are favouring removing menus and relying on search. That's great if you know what you want, but sometimes just clicking the toolbar or menu item is much faster. It also kills discoverability.

You say that most people never use certain functions. Quite often that's because the users don't even know these features exist. The drive towards minimalism is just further compounding the problem by making it even harder to find them.