I walked into our home office the other day and I found my wife yelling at the computer screen. She was trying to create a flyer for her Bunco group and she just wanted to change the type font. She had done this hundreds of times before in Microsoft Word, but now everything had changed.
Her new computer had Office 2007 on it and the Ribbon interface at the top had her confused. She kept clicking on the big type boxes and all of her type was changing. She just wanted to change one line to a different font.
After 10 minutes of trying she was almost in tears. Since I was headed out the door, I finally fired up our laptop which had the older version of Word on it and she completed her flyer in just a few minutes.
I downloaded the new version of WordPress the other day and after some research I updated this blog with it. When I logged into the admin interface, I was surprised at the changes. The look and feel were completely different. It took me a few minutes to find the usual areas that I routinely access.
The interface seemed to be “dumbed down” with the more technical areas of the program hidden away. It took me a few minutes to find the plug-in and settings buttons which are small and over to the side. Once I found them and clicked on them, the interface seemed to look more familiar.
I spent about 10 minutes clicking and exploring the new interface and the new version of WordPress started to make sense. While the interface is different, it didn’t reach the frustration level of change. There were enough things that were the same that it soon became old hat.
The difference between my wife’s experience and mine was that she ended up frustrated and mad and I was surprised but able to continue working.
10 minutes seems to be some kind of limit.
If you can’t figure it out fast, the program becomes the enemy. Most people just want to do their work and get on with life. Users may have a real problem with Office 2007. From my experience, the learning curve of the new office suite is about two weeks. To really get proficient will take much longer.
Where I work, we have hundreds of users on Office 2003. Going to the new version of office will be a big change and I really think we will have to offer training before the roll out.
Unfortunately… training is time consuming and expensive. And Office 2003 works just fine for our users.
So here is a question…
Do you change the interface and improve things or do you change the interface and cause frustration?
I have a limit of about 5-10 minutes for most things… If I can’t figure it out in that amount of time you can have your program, gizmo, or book… back!
Maybe this is why Apple is doing so well…