Sunday, October 09, 2005

Results-oriented UI

Recently Microsoft presented their new User Interface for the new coming version of Office. The basic idea is now "results-oriented". It means that the user should only focus on the desired results and not on how to get there. See for instance Jacob Nielsens comments. All attempts to increase the ordinary users possibility to work in an easy way is welcomed and so is this one. It is however difficult to see the great "philosophical" step that this is supposed to manifest. The distinction between what is an operation and what is a result is delicate. The common way of pointing to a place on a page where you want the page number can be seen as an operation or as results-oriented depending on the chosen level of abstraction. Either you see it as if you command the number to be set at a specific place, or you see it as an act of desire, i.e. you point to a place where yuo want the number to be placed. Of course, the more of actions done by chosing instead of defining increases the number of commands while decreases the number of possible actions. It seems though that the new Office will make it possible to have both styles. So, while this might well be a good evolution of the Office product line, it does not really seem to be a radical change or some breakthrough in basic principles. But, it seems to be a healthy development of one of the most used user interfaces. Let's hope for the best.

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