We have added the Microsoft Office 2007 "Ribbon" style of User Interface (UI) to a number of our products in recent years. The results have ranged from the frankly perfunctory, in the case of our internal or consultants' tools, to the very professional, as with all of our high profile market offerings. In this process, we discovered a great number of troublesome issues, difficult decisions, points of contention, and design dilemmas. All of which, I hasten to add, are a good thing.
This is not a conversion that can be approached lightly, since - particularly by comparison with traditional menus and toolbars - the Ribbon UI:
- takes away so much of the user's freedom;
- eliminates "multiple ways" to execute actions;
- removes the comfortable familiarity a user has built up with your app over the years;
- occupies a bigger chunk of valuable screen real estate than the scheme it replaces.