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  • Blog Post: Giving You Fitts

    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 which predicts how long it takes to move from...
  • Blog Post: Where do the Smiles go?

    Over the last month, you've sent us thousands and thousands of comments about Office 2007 Beta 2 using the Send a Smile tool . For taking the time to install our beta and writing down your thoughts (positive and negative) I am very grateful. A few bloggers have posited that "it's not worth sending...
  • Blog Post: Usability: Art and Science

    Yesterday morning we were sitting in the office of one of our usability researchers watching some DVCAM tapes from tests conducted a few weeks ago. We had a discussion that got me thinking about a set of tests we ran several years ago to determine the discoverability characteristics of contextual tabs...
  • Blog Post: Usability Stockholm Syndrome

    One of the many ways we test designs with real people is through usability testing. Although in Office 2007 we've greatly expanded the range, scope, and types of testing we've done to include everything from remote testing to extremely early deployments to longitudinal studies, we still do our share...
  • Blog Post: Prototyping With PowerPoint

    A couple of weeks ago when I talked about The Feature Bob Invented , I mentioned that we use PowerPoint as an easy way to prototype UI, especially in the early stages of design. A number of people have asked me for more details, and so today I thought I'd go through it step-by-step. We use PowerPoint...
  • Blog Post: Measuring Results

    A couple of us on the UI team were having a conversation about the comments to yesterday's post . Someone pointed out that it appears we've discovered a community on the internet of people just as obsessed about UI as we are around here. :) I wanted to build on yesterday's conversation by helping...
  • Blog Post: The Feature Bob Invented

    It was a cold winter afternoon early in 2004, and we were in the midst of doing some of the first usability tests with a working, clickable prototype of the Ribbon. (Prior to that, most of our prototypes had been paper-based .) This particular prototype was put together in PowerPoint as a fairly...
  • Blog Post: Quality Is Usability

    We have a number of ongoing, long-term projects designed to help us test the overall usability and learning curve of the new Office 12 user interface. One of the most important tasks has been a full deployment of Office 12 Beta 1 within a local company. We chose a dozen people with all different...
  • Blog Post: Paper Prototypes

    Often people ask us "how did you come up with the ideas for the Office 12 user interface?" That's a big question. And the answer isn't simple. What is easier to describe is the process by which we work to validate the design choices that we make as we go along. The very first ideas...
  • Blog Post: Fast At Any Speed

    One of the major engineering feats associated with shipping Office is making sure it runs fast enough. This effort, which we classify under the broad heading of "performance" includes responsiveness (how quickly a button responds when you click it), throughput (how fast Excel can recalculate a...
  • Blog Post: 1000 Card Pick-Up

    Today, we got back a pile of data from a recent card sort exercise. We brought in 17 Word users and 9 Excel users and gave them a huge stack of virtual "cards" containing the name of a command and a short description of what the command does. They were also given the proposed names of Ribbon tabs...
  • Blog Post: Accessibility Begets Usability

    I saw the following post as a comment below a news article on Office 12: "with its fancy skin, it appears Office has abandoned low-vision users forever." Nothing could be further from the truth. We have accessibility experts within every team in Office, including in the user experience team...
  • Blog Post: Usability Redux

    Answering some of the questions asked about our recent usability efforts ... Q: Can you tell us how many usability engineers are involved in all those activities? A: Yes. Q: How do you like the eye-tracking stuff? A: It's certainly interesting, and no doubt the "heat maps...
  • Blog Post: More Than Just the Two-Way Mirror

    I've revealed in the past how many of the Office 12 UI decisions we make are influenced by what we learn in collaboration with our usability and research team. Personally, I find usability tests scary. You have an idea, discuss it with others, work it into a prototype and get excited about...
  • Blog Post: Be Willing To Be Wrong

    Early in our work designing Ribbon content, we had little data to go on in terms of how different content layouts within the Ribbon would affect the usability of the features being laid out. Being a new control, there wasn't any direct information we could fall back on to tell us how to use it...
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