Friday, February 03, 2006

Going Gray

On hierarchy menus and usability/performance tradeoffs...

"One of the key design tenets of the Office 12 user interface is making sure that the set of features you need to look through is as small as possible. Communicating the relevant features makes the program feel smaller and simpler and saves you time in finding what you're looking for and discovering what's possible.

Contextual Tabs are the most crucial piece of this puzzle. By showing the Picture Tools only when they could possibly work (i.e. when you are working with a picture), and doing the same with all other objects, the core Word/Excel/PowerPoint experience is vastly simplified.

But there are other details to which we have attended in order to help work towards this design goal. A key advance is the work we've done to support top-level command disabling.

Here's an illustrative experiment. Launch Word, and then click Close on the File menu to close the empty Word document. Word is still running, but no documents are open--something we call the "fishbowl."   continued ...   (Via Jensen Harris)


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