Let's Talk About Customization

Jensen Harris comments in An Office User Interface Blog : Let's Talk About Customization:

One topic that has come up frequently in our private beta newsgroups as well as here in blog comments from time to time is the issue of customization. As with every component of the Office 2007 user interface redesign, we put a lot of thought into how much customization to provide. Many of you have been passionate in conveying feedback that you wish the UI had absolute customizability. As in my article on the size of the Ribbon, I'm going to lay the facts out on the table and hopefully it will help you to at least understand the rationale behind the decisions we made (even if you wish we had made different ones.)

And yet... fewer that 2% of users actually customize the toolbars. Microsoft developers do, you & I do perhaps, certainly those of us who are beta-testing 2007 do, but are we statistically relevant? Given the market facts of how people actually use the product, these requests are not valid. A few things become clear (at least to me): 1) Developers and power users--who usually want and demand the ability to customize--are not the typical users of this product; 2) since so few customize, getting the default implementation is imperitive; and 3) buyers often ask for stuff that users don't want.

Product managers need to know features requested by the buyers but also understand which are relevant to users.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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