Autodesk has been coming up with new ideas each week for why the "Ribbon" was a positive move. While I would like to believe all the new reasons for why Autodesk forced the ribbon, I still believe it came from some marketer's dream, that influenced corporate, which then became a movement requiring all software packages to look the same. They were going for a wow factor. The wow factor being that if something looks better then people will want it. This works for product design, sometimes websites but rarely on software. Below are some examples:
People will buy electronics that have less features and costs more than another on the shelf simply because it is better designed and more visually appealing. When perusing the shelf or website they created a wow that separated this product from that. Design for this has a purpose and it works.
An overly designed "Wow" website with animated graphics and shifting/sliding of content and controls can actually make it more difficult to see the important information that the website is trying to reveal. While you may get more people wanting to look at the site, they are looking at your "Wow" and not YOU and what YOU can provide to them. The person who clearly states their core values and services on the front page, easy to read, will probably get a better business response.
So recently I was trying out different DVD ripping programs so that I can copy my toddler's movies onto an external drive so that when he destroys the disk, I can just burn a new one. I had two serious contenders for my money and both were on full use trials. The first I decided to try was because they had created a Wow Factor in their User Interface design, the downside was that it actually did not work well. The burned DVD would automatically skip from chapter to chapter 50% of the time and you would finish the movie in seconds. So I tried the other which was a basic interface with nothing graphical about it and few buttons or options. It worked perfectly and did what it was designed to do. Which one do you think I spent my money on?
Today I will be completing the 4th day of Revit 2010 training for a new team that has never used Revit. While one of the premises for the new UI was that it would make it easier for new users to grasp, I actually believe that it is harder. With everything shifting and sliding, tools there and not there, go to this tab and then back again... the issues go on and on. There is no easy way to say when you want to do this you go here. Everything is in constant movement and revealing tools in different places. What is interesting is that I see more users who will probably go back to text commands (like Autocad) because tools like the copy button move all over the place and you are constantly having to think and search out the command. While there is nothing that can be done going forward with the UI since it is here to stay, I sure hope Autodesk makes some huge advancement in the tools for the next release. Otherwise, it is a "Wow" type interface which is hard to navigate, does not follow the flow of working on design projects and has many tools that still do not adequately perform the tasks that they are suppose to do.