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Most Used Features in Microsoft Word and a few design lessons

Early this year, Microsoft analyzed the usage behavior of Microsoft Word 2003 users, based on data collected thru the customer experience improvement program.

The study, mainly done to understand the most used commands throws some interesting data:

  • 5 commands account for around 32% of the total command use in Word 2003.
  • Beyond the top 10 commands or so, however, the curve flattens out considerably.
  • The percentage difference in usage between the #100 command (“Accept Change”) and the #400 command (“Reset Picture”) is about the same in difference between #1 and #11 (“Change Font Size”)

The Top 5 Microsoft Word Commands

Here are the top 5 Most-Used Commands in Microsoft Word 2003

  • Paste
  • Save
  • Copy
  • Undo
  • Bold

Surprised?

More interesting data:

  • Paste itself accounts for more than 11% of all commands used, and has more than twice as much usage as the #2 entry on the list, Save.
  • Paste is also far-and-away the number one command in Excel and PowerPoint, accounting for 15% and 12% of total command use, respectively.

What we didn’t know until we analyzed the data was that even though so many people do use CTRL+V and do use “Paste” on the context menu, the toolbar button for Paste still gets clicked more than any other button. The command is so incredibly popular that even though there are more efficient ways of using it, many people do prefer to click the toolbar button. [msdn blog]

Design Learnings

Microsoft earlier wasn’t planning to have ‘Cut/Copy/Paste” in Office 2007.

Everyone “knew” that people mostly used CTRL+X/C/V to do most clipboard actions (which was true.) And that mouse users used the context menu to access these clipboard commands (which was also true.)

What we didn’t know until we analyzed the data was that even though so many people do use CTRL+V and do use “Paste” on the context menu, the toolbar button for Paste still gets clicked more than any other button. The command is so incredibly popular that even though there are more efficient ways of using it, many people do prefer to click the toolbar button.

Lesson learnt?

No matter how popular a product is, do not take users for granted. You can never predict consumer behavior – so stop assuming!

What’s your take?

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