Office 12 and the Forthcoming UI Cargo Cults

Note: This post might be a little dated. It was published in December 2006.

In a recent post on Office 12, IanG speculates on how other Windows software developers will respond to the new Office ribbon.

He predicts that developers will try to copy the superficial features of the new MS Office Ribbon, on the basis that if their creation looks similar, it is similar, and therefore will be equally effective.

The trouble with this is that the MS have apparently done a lot of user research and testing to get things right with the ribbon. The context in which functions are offered, and the way in which they are provided may seem like small details, but these are the details that tip the balance between success and failure.

On a side note, I’ve always liked the cargo cult metaphor especially in when referring to cargo cult science – those fields of knowledge who believe that if they adopt the external trappings and symbols of science they will be able to magically claim the same legitimacy without understanding what it is about the scientific process that actually generates knowledge (in this context I’d probably class anything outside of physics and chemistry as a pseudo-science ;-)