Ramblings & ephemera

The most popular commands in Word

From Microsoft’s “No Distaste for Paste (Why the UI, Part 7)“:

The data set I’m pulling from is all Word 2003 users who have opted in to the program. We could slice the data based on, perhaps, CPU speed to try to get more power users. Or 800×600 screen resolution, to try to get more home users. But in this case, we’re looking at the entire data set of commands executed through any means (toolbar, menu, context menu, or keyboard shortcut.)

Top 5 Most-Used Commands in Microsoft Word 2003

1. Paste
2. Save
3. Copy
4. Undo
5. Bold

Together, these five commands account for around 32% of the total command use in Word 2003. 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.

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”) This is what makes creating the new UI challenging–people really do use a lot of the breadth of Office and beyond the top 10 commands there are a lot of different ways of using the product.

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.

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