The Truman Show?

Every day I run into someone that asks me about the “Ribbon” and how it came to be.  Typically it is someone that is new to Office 2007, who just recently had it installed at their workplace, and they need to create a document with x, y and z by tomorrow.

Well to start, why is it called the Ribbon?  It doesn’t quite look like a ribbon.  It doesn’t scroll from one side of my screen to the other like a type-writer ribbon.  The simple answer, it was just an internal codename that represented an initial idea, and that name stuck.

So then how did we get from Word 1 .0 menu’s to Office 2007 contextual tabs? 

Sure there may have been a lot of design time, usability studies, and scenarios like a Truman Show to ensure we captured everything from eye movement to process thinking via a live web cam.

But what did those earlier prototypes of Office look like that got us where we are now? 

The ones that went from less than 50 menu items to over 250 menu items, spanning across 33 toolbars made up of 16x16 icons, and 19 task panes?

Take a look at a presentation on the Story of the Ribbon.

By the end of the video, you will see why 90% of the users say it’s easier to create professional documents in Office 2007, and 88% say it’s more fun to use Office 2007 with the new “Ribbon” (Fluent UI) than previous versions.


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