Design and Innovation Daily

Two months of paper prototyping

Posted in methodology, user interface by Dan on January 22, 2010

Microsoft Office Labs recently released a new add-in: Ribbon Hero is a game that can improve your skills with Microsoft Office. In this interview, software engineer Jonas Helin discusses the development process for Ribbon Hero. His team spent two months designing with paper prototypes before writing a single line of code.

(Found via Steve Portigal and Lost Garden.)

Ritual in innovation; the story of the ribbon

Posted in culture, methodology, user experience, user interface by Dan on January 8, 2010

Bruce Nussbaum wrote some interesting thoughts on the role of ritual in technology and innovation. “I was once nearly thrown out of a brainstorming session at IDEO and it marked me for life.” His brief post: “The Ritualization of Creation—The Role of Ritual In Innovation.”

For your weekend viewing, here’s an interesting presentation from 2008: Jensen Harris, a user interface designer at Microsoft, talks about the process of developing the ribbon in Microsoft Office 2007. Back when Microsoft began developing the next version of Office in 2003, their team found that, while Office was fairly complete in its range of features, the user interface was insufficient for the software’s complexity: “The user interface was failing our users.” Harris and his team set out to reimagine, redesign, and evaluate the interface.

In the presentation, from the MIX conference in 2008, Harris describes the design process for the ribbon, including some of the team’s iterations, prototypes, and mistakes. Video, audio, and slides from the presentation are available on his blog. Although the video is a bit long, and even though “Microsoft” connotes “boring” for some, watch at least the first 4 minutes to get a taste; it contains valuable insights and design lessons.

Here’s the blog post: The Story of the Ribbon