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Microsoft & Usability - Visio

One of the topics that often comes up is how much money Microsoft spend on usability.  I'd just like to point out a couple of glaring usability errors that Microsoft have made in Visio 2002.
First, previous versions of Visio have had a duplicate option when you right click an object.  Now it's gone, and you have to copy and paste which is much more inconvenient.
Second, if you have any object highlighted when you save a Visio diagram as a graphics file (tested with JPG & PNG) , all you get is a graphic of the object.  This is contrary to what I expect as a user.

Dr Ransom
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Hi Dr Ransom

Just a couple of thoughts related to your post:

1) There are 2 main branches in the usability world - usability testing and interaction design.  Usability testing tries to make the best of a bad job once a product is nearly finished via observation testing; interaction design tries to design usability in from the beginning, at the early specification stages.  I think (though someone could correct me) that MicroSoft have largely invested in usability testing, and therefore they probably only catch the most glaring errors.

2) The user testing team may have spotted all sorts of problems, but there may well have been a commercial decision not to make changes either because of costs, or consistency with other MicroSoft products or just lack of time.  A good article on design 'in the real world' can be found at:


Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Since Visio is the most obviously acquired product in the Microsoft Office Suite or products (I think a lot of the Office programs were acquired, but have since had facelifts), perhaps they were changing it to conform more to MS-like standards.

I understand the export frustration, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that visio diagrams often get extremely large and you might want to export a subset of it. By multi-highlighting objects you can create a .gif with just those parts....

My version of Visio is 2000.

Mark W
Tuesday, April 16, 2002

I'm not familiar with Visio, but Microsoft usually include compatability options.  For example, you can still set Excel to respond to 123 slash commands.

Have a poke around in the options - microsoft standards is Tools-Options and then transition or compatability tab.

If Microsoft are being consistant, then you should find that these annoyances can be altered using these options.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, April 17, 2002

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