I am writing a new program. I have the choice of using either the old style of menu and toolbars, or make my software look modern and use a ribbon control.
As far as I can tell, the only advantage the ribbon control offers is that it makes my software look modern.
In theory, ribbon controls make software easier to use. It offers the scope of a menu along with pretty pictures of a toolbar.
But this is why I hate them:
In the good old days (am I just getting old?),
- There was a toolbar (or a couple) and on it were all the things that you used often. They were all there. More importantly they were one click away.
- There was a menu for everything and you went searching for the less often used things. They were two or more clicks away (menu + item), but that was OK because they weren’t used too often.
- And for the really frequently used things, the experienced user learnt the hotkeys.
But now there is the option of a hotkey, or two clicks. To make it worse, the two clicks aren’t even close to each other (like with menus). It is just so annoying.
I won’t get personal and start naming specific apps, but are we really heading in the right direction here? Have we put all the focus on new users (the argument being the ribbon control is easier to learn than before) and forgotten that users eventually (and fairly quickly) become experienced users.
So I suspect that, as much as I would like to join the modern era, I have to put my users first and go with a toolbar and menu. But please feel free to defend the Ribbon control.
And my next blog on the topic will be “Why I hate Windows 8” 🙂