WYSIWYG is dead, long live WYGIWYS

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Macintosh-style interaction design has reached its limits. A new paradigm, called results-oriented UI, might well be the way to empower users in the future.

In his latest alertbox, Jakob Nielsen explains how the concept of what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) is no longer useful or valid and is evolving into what-you-get-is-what-you-see (WYGIWYS) or “results-oriented UI [user interface].”

He uses the user interface redesign for Microsoft’s Office 12 as an example of where this is happening. There’s been positive feedback in initial testing apparently.

You select from a range of examples roughly what you want your end result to be (letter, book, presentation) and then narrow down to more detailed options.

And rather than drilling down through drop-down lists, your options are presented to you in context (according to the task you’re aiming to complete) and visually.

I guess this works in office-type applications because it lets people focus on the content rather than the formatting.

But I don’t think it’s new, just new to office-type applications. Other software has been based on this concept for a while now.

And there are lots of online products and services offering this kind of contextualised option selection and refinement, first thanks to Flash and now with ajax it’s spreading like wildfire.

Isn’t results-oriented UI just user-centred design by another name?

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