August, 2006

Blog - About

About Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

My name is Jensen Harris and I'm the Director of Program Management for the Microsoft Windows User Experience Team.

I previously was Group Program Manager of the Office 2007 and Office 2010 User Experience teams. Our team was responsible for the overall interaction and visual design of the programs that ship in Office. Most recently, we completed a total user interface redesign of Office which shipped as part of the Office 2007 and which was improved in Office 2010.

Although we worked very closely with the individual application teams (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc.) to help solve difficult usability issues specific to those programs, our key responsibility was to design and develop the UI framework that people use to interact with all of Office.

In short, the team's mission is to help make sure that you can find and use the functionality in Office as seamlessly as possible.

Some background on me: I've worked at Microsoft for eleven years; before that I was a summer intern twice. I spent my first five years at Microsoft working on the Outlook e-mail and PIM program, both for the Macintosh and for Windows. The last project I worked on was leading the redesign of the Outlook 2003 user interface that shipped in Office 2003. After work on Office 2003 concluded in August of 2003, I moved to the overall Office User Experience Team--first as a Lead Program Manager and then later as Group Program Manager.

In mid-2009, I left the Office team to take a position as Director of Program Management for Windows User Experience.

Before I joined Microsoft, I graduated with a degree in music composition from Yale University. For high school, I attended Interlochen Arts Academy and graduated with a double major in music composition and trombone performance.

In this blog, I write my thoughts about the ins and outs of defining and designing the user experience of Microsoft Office. I write frequently about the future of Office but also sometimes the past. And there are times I find it irresistible to delve into general user interface issues or even software issues in general.

In particular, this blog is all about the new Office user interface which shipped as part of Office 2007. This new version does away with menus and toolbars and replaces them with new paradigms such as the Ribbon, Contextual Tabs, the Mini Toolbar, and Galleries.

I look forward to reading your comments and hearing suggestions on what would you would like to see me cover. Dive in, there's plenty to read!

  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Giving You Fitts

    • 123 Comments
    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...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Recently Used Documents

    • 62 Comments
    One of the efficiency affordances added to Office over a decade ago is the Recent Documents list. At the bottom of the File menu in Office 2003, you'll see your four most recently-opened documents listed; you can click one of them to open the file...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Which Color When? (Part 2)

    • 67 Comments
    On Thursday, I wrote about how Office 2003 renders the user interface using a table of several thousand colors . Some of you commented that we're crazy to do so much work. Perhaps, but keep in mind that I'm not just talking about the menus and toolbars;...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Which Color When? (Part 1)

    • 32 Comments
    As you probably know by now, each of the Office 2007 programs (both classic UI and new UI) have the ability to render themselves in several different color schemes. What determines which color scheme is used when, and what are the defaults? Before...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Reality Check

    • 51 Comments
    It was with a bit of surprise that I read a flurry of stories on Friday with breathless headlines like "Microsoft backs off the Ribbon in Office 2007!" and "Microsoft Cuts Office 2007 Ribbon!" Part of working at a company like Microsoft is that people...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Evolution of the PowerPoint Home Tab

    • 26 Comments
    A few months ago, I made an attempt to give you a sense of the kinds of changes to the user interface you'd be likely to see between Beta 2 and the final product. In particular, I guessed that we had made over a thousand individual tweaks to the contents...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    Running With the Popular Crowd

    • 51 Comments
    I've written in the past about the approach we took to organizing options in Office 2007 , including a misguided detour in creating an "expert mode." Today I want to start a discussion of some of the options available in Word 2007 by sharing those settings...
  • Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog

    On Writing

    • 11 Comments
    Some of you have noted that recently I've been writing a little less frequently than in the months before. For a long time, I did five articles a week; recently, I've been doing three or four most weeks. One reason for this is that I've been trying...
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