Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Macintosh-style interaction design has reached its limits. A new paradigm, called results-oriented UI, might well be the way to empower users in the future.
Unfortunately, we've now reached the limits of the current GUI paradigm. Displaying commands in menus, toolbars, and dialog boxes works with a limited number of elements. But Microsoft Word 2003 has 1,500 commands, and users typically have no clue where to find most of them.

Another WYSIWYG downside is that it forces too much manual labor on users and requires a stretch of imagination to envision results in advance. Yes, you can gradually massage your work into the shape you desire, one modification at a time, and visually confirm progress as you go. But you have to make each modification yourself, at the cost of many a mouse click.

Even worse, you begin with a blank screen and must build up to your goal one step at a time. Although Michelangelo might readily see a statue hidden within an uncarved marble block, such a feat is considerably more taxing for the average person.

Next Generation: Results-Oriented UI

The next version of Microsoft Office (code-named "Office 12") will be based on a new interaction paradigm called the results-oriented user interface. As the demos show, the most obvious departure from the past is that menus and toolbars are all but wiped out. The focus is now on letting users specify the results they want, rather than focusing on the primitive operations required to reach their goals.

The new interface displays galleries of possible end-states, each of which combine many formatting operations. From this gallery, you select the complete look of your target -- say an org chart or an entire document -- and watch it change shape as you mouse over the alternatives in the gallery. The interaction paradigm has been reversed; it's now What You Get Is What You See, or WYGIWYS.

It's as if you could point to a marble block and say, "I want it to be the David -- or maybe Venus de Milo," as you flip through a book of famous statues. Every time you mention a design, your marble block would morph accordingly, but with your content (say, the face or the size) in place of that original element.

Very interesting - link from Houston Sharon.

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