In my office, I have all Open Source Software on my machine (Thunderbird, Open Office), except the Operating System which is Windows XP Professional. But I guess in time even that will change, thanks to user-friendly Ubuntu. Till now, no problem with these OSS, until I used Open Office Impress to make a presentation.
Even with the “Wizard” interface of Open Office Impress, it took me literally 2 minutes to figure out where to start. I didn’t get the toolbars and buttons on the screen I wanted to start off my presentation. I went to the ToolBar menu to customize it, but that again took 2 minutes to figure out what is happening. Then I selected one template and inserted some bullet-points in the first slide. Now I wanted to change the colour and transition effects of the text, and again I had to search through the screen to find how to do the same.
This is the place where MS Office Powerpoint 2007 excels. I have tried it earlier for my college presentation. Their patented Ribbon-style interface just helps you do what is there in your mind. It never obstructs the flow of your thought. Be it changing the colour to inserting an audio file and animating the slide, it just works seamlessly. And you feel that its all there in front of you, ready to be used at your command.
That is how User Interface should be for your software product. You should know how your user is going to interact with the product. You should know the types of users and how they work, how they think, what they need first when an app starts. Don’t make the user think. Don’t let him pause for a moment and stare at the screen. Moreover, the User Interface should help the user use functionality of the product which he didn’t even intend to use in the first place, and which will enhance his work even more.
I know that the User Interface of Open Office Impress is very similar to MS Office 2003 version and I have used MS Office 2003 for lot of presentations. But now I am used to the look and feel of Office 2007. I think only about ‘what’ to do, not ‘how’ to do, while using it.
That is the reason I love MS Office 2007 and wish to buy the same. Lets see what can be done with my presentation. Will give it to someone who is still very familiar with Open Office or do it on a machine that has Office 2007.