One of the new features in the upcoming Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh that I haven't written about yet is something we call the Quick Customize Menu.
As you may know, the Quick Access Toolbar is a customizable part of the UI in which you can add features for quick access. Simply right-click any control in the Ribbon, or any group of controls, and choose "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" to add it to the QAT. There's also a customize dialog box where you can add many commands at once.
So, it's pretty easy to add things to the Quick Access Toolbar. But we wanted to go a step further, and make it even easier for people to add a few features we believe will be among the most-frequently added.
We created a list of around ten features per-program, using the Customer Experience Improvement Program data from Beta 1, B1TR, and Beta 2 to help inform this decision.
Next to the QAT is a little arrow. In the long-term deployments of Beta 1 we did last year, one of the behaviors we noticed was that people first clicked on the arrow to try customize in many cases. Unfortunately, what you saw when you clicked this arrow was a rather fallow menu containing only two commands: open the customize dialog box, or move the QAT below the Ribbon.
So in Beta 2 Technical Refresh, we built a Quick Customize menu on to the arrow which lets you quickly add a core set of features to the QAT. (You can, of course, still right-click anything in the Ribbon or Office Menu to add it to the QAT as well.)
What's on the menu? Well, a lot of good stuff. For instance, the "New" icon which directly opens a new blank document. And the beloved but dangerous "Quick Print", which immediately sends your entire document to the default printer.
One you might be surprised about in Word is "Draw Table"—but only if you consider English alone. "Draw Table" is extensively used in East Asian languages, where tables are frequently used to structure and control the text flow of a document. This is one of those cases where the usage data for a particular feature is vastly dependent on the locale you're in and the input language you're using.
Each program has a slightly different menu; the Excel menu, for instance, contains Sort Ascending and Sort Descending. On the PowerPoint menu, you'll find "Start Slide Show."
The Quick Customize Menu is not a revolution—but it's a nice affordance to improve the discoverability of customization for beginner/intermediate users who are most likely to want to add just a few simple commands to their Quick Access Toolbar.
(Want to read more about customization? There's a whole article here.)