To Do or Not to Do, That is the Question: Styling the SharePoint 2010 Ribbon
Marcy Kellar, The SharePoint Muse, is working with me to help redesign the interface for EndUserSharePoint.com so that content can actually be found. The site is being built from the ground up with the help of Marcy, Jeremy Thake from SharePointDevWiki.com for the Develper issues and Joel Oleson from SharePointJoel.com for the ITPro issues.
Jeremy sent Marcy and me a note pointing to an article by Tom Wilson: “Guys just read Tom’s post on this . I think you should do something similar too to stand out from the crowd.”
Marcy sent back an extended response, which I think might be useful for those deciding when and where to start messing with basic, location based interfaces. The discussion is about the ribbon in 2010, but it could be about moving or altering any major interface piece.
I’ve spent a few hours diving deep into the ribbon over the past few days. You have no idea how far I’ve come in my knowledge of the Ribbon and 2010 elements since we last spoke. I even have custom graphics to help teach and train. I’m excited for the SP Designer 2010 book to be released but it’s impact on my availability is frustrating.
I’ve read Tom Wilson’s article, Ribbon Customization: Changing Placement, Look and Behavior, and think it’s great to see what can be done, but I’m not convinced on his reason…nor yours. Is standing out the most important thing or is functionality? Isn’t there something else that can be done to stand out?
Microsoft built an entire architecture and platform around the ribbon. I’d like to test it out the way it was intended first. And then see if it needs to be redesigned. It’s a functional element, not just for looks. Moving it has implications that should be well thought out.
- Any break in the positioning decreases usability for your audience. All day every day they will be working with the ribbon in another location. Your users are going to also be using Office 2010 products.
- Moving the ribbon on task oriented site, such as a Wiki, is risky. There will be little annoying cognitive decisions about navigation when moving from program to program. For those of us that will be using SharePoint 2010 in more than one environment (ALL of your authors), it will be confusing, irritating, nettling, discombobulating. As Steve Krug has put it, “Don’t Make Me Think!”
I like that Tom proved it possible. I even think his design is slick. But just because it’s possible doesn’t mean it is good design. We should definitely prototype it first. Just move the position and not brand it. Let’s test it if you really want it.
It might be interesting. We could even implement on a subsite as an example… but for actual use? I don’t’ know.. would you want to make something harder to use to make it prettier on the eyes? I can tell you that sometimes it’s worth it. I’ve got some rockin shoes that aren’t functional. But I have to be hard pressed to wear them.
So let me know what you want to do. Test and prototype a new ribbon or get used to the one MS shipped? I will be on board either way.