Starting last Wednesday, the most-used productivity product in the world is getting a makeover.
Whether you’re writing a letter in Word, managing a budget in Excel or sending an email in Outlook, Microsoft Office is ensuring it remains the go-to place to get stuff done for people around the world.
Beginning 13th of June 2018, millions of people who use Office at home and work will begin to see some changes designed to deliver what the developers at Microsoft believe will be a balance of power and simplicity. These updates are exclusive to Office.com and Office 365:
- Simplified ribbon. A new, updated version of the ribbon is designed to help users focus on their work and collaborate naturally with others. People who prefer to dedicate more screen space to the commands will still be able to expand the ribbon to the classic three-line view.
- New icons and color. Across the apps you’ll start to see new icons and colors built as scalable graphics — so they render with crisp, clean lines on screens of any size. These changes are designed to both modernize Office design and make it more inclusive and accessible.
- Search. Search will become a much more important element of the user experience, providing access to commands, content and people. With “zero query search” simply placing your cursor in the search box will bring up recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph.
These design changes are focused on the following:
- Customers. Microsoft says that they are using a customer-driven innovation process to co-create the design of the Office apps. That process consists of three phases: initial customer research and analysis; concepting and co-creation; and validation and refinement.
- Context. Their focus groups reported that they love the power of Office, but they don’t need every feature at the same time. So they’ve rebuilt their new designs to understand the context that you are working in so that you can focus on your content. That means both surfacing the most relevant commands based on the work you are doing and making it easy to connect and collaborate with others.
- Control. For those who prefer the experience to be gradual, they’ve recognized that the way someone uses the apps often depends on specific parts of the user interface. So in order to give end users control, they’ve allowed users to toggle significant changes to the user experience on and off.
Chief Designer John Friedman says that over the last year, Microsoft completed extensive customer research and spent many months working side-by-side with customers to guide design changes. He adds that as a result, customers will benefit from a more simplified experience while maintaining the full power of Office and a design ethos that is more inclusive — empowering everyone to create, communicate and collaborate.
The team also increased its focus not just on what people think of the product, but how they feel using it. “Through gathering feedback from thousands of people, we’ve found that people react most positively to feeling in control, productive and secure,” said Trish Miner, principal design researcher, Microsoft.
And to ensure that Microsoft continues to listen, learn and respond quickly to customer feedback, the company is including an in-product survey to ascertain how features make people feel. “The good news is that as we better understand these correlations between the design of features and how people feel while using them, we can develop technologies that are more empathetic,” Miner said.
The design refresh will start rolling out to business and consumer customers beginning in June.
This press release was received from Microsoft.com. This release and more information on the new Office design can be found at https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/blog/2018/06/13/power-and-simplicity-updates-to-the-office-365-user-experience/.