View Poll Results: Do you like the MS Office Ribbon?

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  • Like It

    38 29.46%
  • Hate It

    76 58.91%
  • Haven't formed opinion yet

    9 6.98%
  • Don't use it

    6 4.65%
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  1. #106
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    Wow, what a discussion! As a Tech support person for over ten years and having worked with Word since version 6 (which came on a set of about 14 floppy disks) I've noticed a number of things.
    I like the old interface for a number of reasons: it could be customized to just the way you liked it and it pretty much stayed that way, I had "toggles" so I could toggle on/off toolbars like the drawing toolbar which I frequently used, other infrequently used toolbars could easily be turned on/off as required if I was working on some project, and even the toolbars themselves could be customized. All my toolbars and their Icons were just a click away, now I have to figure out which menu I have to be in first and they're often 3 or more clicks away as I try to figure out which menu I need to be in.
    As a company that had hundreds of templates, we had created our own toolbars for the most common ones: fax covers, letterhead, etc., that were always available - however they are now buried a level deep under the oddly named heading - Addins.
    Odd thing though, even though we had pretty much a common user interface with everyone having access, I couldn't "teach" some of the users to use many of the common shortcuts - they would click "File, Save" or "File, Open" instead of using the first two or three icons on their menus - even with those menus being consistent across all of their Office products.
    Now, with Office 2007-2010 they've renamed a number of functions which totally threw us off. Sure you could find "Insert, Page break", but to insert any other type of break you have to go to Page Layout??? Office seems to have gone from having 5+ different ways to accomplish a task to one.
    Parts of the ribbon really are a pain, but I personally really like the way you can "preview" the way a document or paragraph will look just by highlighting a font, point size, or style. Unfortunately, that's not much use in our Office environment where 95% of the staff only use 2 designated fonts for filling in templates.
    The ribbon is a nice idea, but not suited to the way most people work.

    Any why did they change the reply to "do you want to save your changes?" to "Save, Don't Save?" when I was used to hitting Y or N??? But that's another topic...

  2. #107
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    You might find Templates more conveniently under File | New.

    It's hard to believe the ribbon is more than five years old, and a kid who started learning Office in High School may now be well into university, and not have the faintest idea what all this fuss is about.

  3. #108
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    I want to make an additional comment on the rationale for the Ribbon: that it is Microsoft's response to requests for features that are already implemented.

    Joe asked how I would respond to that problem. I neglected to give the simplest and most direct reply: I would provide a help system that gives users help.

    This may sound snarky or flip, but I mean it quite soberly. Office's help system does not accomplish that.

    As an example, consider my experience of last weekend with Word 2010. I had to review a document that contained hundreds of changes, and I wanted to know how to accept or reject a change and move to the next change with one click instead of two.

    I clicked the question mark icon which Microsoft has exiled to the right edge of the window (the first time I used Office 2010 it took me minutes to find it). Word opened its help window.

    First, I noticed that the "search" box was labeled "Bing," not "Search." Microsoft is using Office's help system to provide some free advertising for one of its other products. Tacky! This is a little thing, but a software product's image is largely a sum of little things. If Microsoft wants me to have a favorable opinion of Office 2010's help, and thus of Office 2010, it's starting off on the wrong foot.

    I entered a search string, something like "review accept reject." Seeing no Search button, I pressed Enter to start the search. (I later discovered that the little magnifying-glass icon, positioned inside the text box like the "open" arrow on a dropdown list, is actually a search button. Maybe I'll remember that that next time I use help. Probably not. When every part of Office's user interface works differently, and all of them not only work differently from everything in the non-Microsoft world, but even from other Microsoft products, it's pretty hard to remember how anything works.)

    But onward. The help window displayed several dozen articles, with a "More" icon after the last one. Clearly Word found me lots of help... more than I could possibly use unless I was prepared to undertake a major research project. It had better do a good job of ranking the results, I thought, because I'll never find the needle I want by rummaging through this haystack.

    Unfortunately, it turned out to do a really miserable job of ranking the results. I'm not sure it was even trying.

    The first article's title was something like "How to Use the Review Feature in Word 2003." Excuse me? This is Word 2010. Why is a topic about Word 2003 even available?

    The second article had a more promising title, but turned out to be a long-winded introduction to the Review feature which didn't contain the information I needed.

    The third "article" was a blog post by someone I'd never heard of, who had no apparent connection to Microsoft.

    And so it went.

    After skipping past several more probably-unhelpful entries, I found one titled, "How to troubleshoot print failures in Word 2010, Word 2007, and Word 2003." This was so obviously irrelevant that it fascinated me. How could a help system possibly come up with that for a search on the review feature?

    I opened the article to see what it might have to do with my search. I found that it did contain the word "Review," right up near the top, where it said: "Last Review: August 26, 2011." The words "accept" and "reject," alas, did not appear in the article at all.

    I looked at the page's meta tags, but found no more clues.

    I looked at a few more articles, then gave up. The information I wanted might be buried somewhere in the information that Help found for me, but extracting it would take more effort than it was worth. It was easier to review a few hundred changes by clicking twice instead of once.

    If I were naive enough to blame Office rather than the help system, and to think Microsoft might pay attention to my feedback, I might write to tell them it would be really nice if Review would let me accept/reject a change and move to the next change with one click. Thus I'd join the ranks of benighted users who inspired Microsoft to reinvent the user interface.

    I want to emphasize that this experience is neither made-up nor cherry-picked. It's simply the most recent encounter I've had with Office help. I chose to recount it because it's fresh in my mind. I don't often try to use Office help, but when I do, the result is usually about the same.

    I hope I've described it in enough detail to demonstrate that I am getting insatisfactory results because Office's help system is almost useless, not because I don't understand how to use it.

    Actually, Office does not really have a help system at all. It has a half-baked search engine in a lameware web browser that pulls stuff up, apparently more or less at random, from Microsoft's Knowledge Base and other parts of the Web.

    I work for a company with less than a dozen employees, and part of my job involves producing end user documentation. If I created a usability tool as badly conceived and executed as this one, my boss would take stripes off my back, and justifiably so.

    The idea that Microsoft would produce a shoddy help system like this one, then react to its users' inability to find information by inventing a new user interface, is like a plot line for a Dilbert cartoon. It's infuriating, it's frustrating, it's pathetic... but it's also rather funny.
    Last edited by jsachs177; 2012-04-30 at 19:34.

  4. #109
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    If you use the Quick Access Toolbar, I suggest you go to ‘All Commands’ and add ‘Changes’.

    That was a dandy post, and it may well start (or renew) an avalanche of further posts.

    (AN additional comment?)

  5. #110
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    Quick Access Toolbar

    I think that if you go to the Quick Access Toolbar ‘All Commands’ you may find a cure for many of the ribbon’s shortcomings, and a lot of things that either aren’t available from the ribbon or are nearly impossible to find. You may find it worth going through every one of them alphabetically – actually install as many as will fit on your screen at once – and test each to see what it does – and then remove those and continue with the next screen-wide sequence.

    In Word, if I want to insert the current date and time there is an icon for it under the ‘Insert’ tab of the ribbon, but if I want to insert a different date, I have no idea how to use the ribbon to do it. There is, however, a ‘Date Picker Content Control’ in the ‘All Commands’ list for the Quick Access Toolbar, which does exactly what I want it to do.

    Having found any number of useful functions in the ‘All Commands’ list, you may then be able to leave them on the Quick Access Toolbar, or you may be able to customize the ribbon to put them where you want them.

    I have a suspicion that a lot of users may find that 'All Commands' list in the QAT can increase their productivity and make the system more user-friendly in no time at all. How many 'power users' even know what those commands do?

  6. #111
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    @jsachs177: When you open help if you click on the "book" icon you get a help table of content organized in the more traditional manner. You do not have to search to use it. It does take you to online help. But online is the way help is going now. It is much easier to distribute changes online that in a help file. I agree that the basic interface where you are encouraged to search is bad and that the search results are often not the best. I suppose that will improve over time. IMO, the quality of help in general is terrible regardless of the product. This in no way is meant to exonerate Microsoft. As most other vendors they have not paid enough attention to "help" for quite a while.

    As far as your particular search for how to accept changes and move on. If you click on the top part of the "Accept" button it will accept and move on. Just hover to see the tool tip.

    Joe

  7. #112
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    Joe, thank you for pointing out the book icon. It does make Word's help work better. The jury's out on whether it works well enough to be useable, though... I may end up concluding that searching the world with Google is still a better source for help with Word than Word's own help.

    Your suggestion for "accept changes and move on" does not, alas, work. Actually, it's the first thing I tried, since it's the obvious thing to try. It accepts the change and then sits there until I click "next change." I assume there's some obscure option I have to change to make it work the way it ought to work.

  8. #113
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    Does the tool tip say "Accept changes and move on"?

    Joe

  9. #114
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    To me the Ribbon looks messy, confusing, and really slows me down ... but that's just me. I wish there was an option for both.

  10. #115
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    Does the tool tip say "Accept changes and move on"?
    To be precise, "Accept changes and move to next." And I've found that it works that way in other documents, but not in the big one that I had to review under time pressure.

  11. #116
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsachs177 View Post
    To be precise, "Accept changes and move to next." And I've found that it works that way in other documents, but not in the big one that I had to review under time pressure.
    Here is a LINK that you might find helpful, along with links from that.

  12. #117
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    Thank you, dogberry. I've been using change tracking for ten years or more, and I already had a pretty good idea how it works. I took a look at the link; it described a few interesting features I didn't know about, but unfortunately nothing about the problem I described. I believe it was just a bit of weirdness that can't be explained, and I just have to hope it never happens again.

    Given that, it no longer seems like the best example to have used to a critique of Office Help. However, I can assure everyone (again) that it's representative. I can almost always find better answers, faster, by searching with Google.

  13. #118
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    I find clicking on the drop down arrow next to search in help and selecting Word help rather than the default of all word works better for me. In the case of searching for accept changes, the first item that comes up is "Review, accept, reject and hide tracked changes".

    Jerry

  14. #119
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsachs177 View Post
    Thank you, dogberry. I've been using change tracking for ten years or more, and I already had a pretty good idea how it works. I took a look at the link; it described a few interesting features I didn't know about, but unfortunately nothing about the problem I described. I believe it was just a bit of weirdness that can't be explained, and I just have to hope it never happens again.

    Given that, it no longer seems like the best example to have used to a critique of Office Help. However, I can assure everyone (again) that it's representative. I can almost always find better answers, faster, by searching with Google.
    I would have to investigate more closely, but other word processors, notably WordPerfect (which has just released version X6) will produce documents that can be readily converted to Word. If, however, there is no provision for 'track changes'... The same would be true if the document were converted to a PDF and back again.

    Well, you tell me. It's just a passing thought.

    I agree that 'it's hard to find good help these days'.
    Last edited by dogberry; 2012-05-09 at 03:49.

  15. #120
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    I don't want to stir up the discussion again, but I need to make one comment.

    I hope that the Windows 8 debacle will encourage a more realistic judgment of Microsoft's human factors research.

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