Windows Live Microsoft Word Document UX vs. Google Docs UX

Before even getting to the point of writing a document, there are very distinct user experiences (UX). I have my own preferences, but I am very curious what others think.

When somebody decides to create a new Microsoft Word Document in the Windows Live Site on their Skydrive they’re presented with this interface.

Windows Live Skydrive Microsoft Word Document

Windows Live Skydrive Microsoft Word Document (Click for full size image)

To start typing in the prospective document you much choose your security, enter a document name, and save the document.  It assumes that you absolutely want a unique name, will have a document viewable by the entire Internet, and that you have to save it just to start.

In Google Docs though the approach is entirely different.  When you create a new Google Document you are presented with the actual document interface as shown.

Google Docs Interface (Click for larger image)

Google Docs Interface (Click for larger image)

Google Docs assumes that you want to immediately start typing your word processor document. It also assumes you may not know what you want to name the file, nor that you even need to actually save it, until you of course start typing. At that time the document starts to automatically save. It also assumes that this is your document and you don’t want the entire world to be able to view the document.

So I’m left with questions:

  • Which interface do people really prefer?
  • Do people prefer to start typing immediately or filling out the three pieces of information like the MS Word Doc requires?
  • One appears to allow for immediate productivity for the document creator vs. the other one. Is that just my observation or do others see it that way also?
Please let me know your two cents, I’m truly curious about which UX works out better for you.

9 thoughts on “Windows Live Microsoft Word Document UX vs. Google Docs UX

  1. I prefer the Google Docs interface as to document creation which is ironically the local MS Word experience which annoys me as 9 time out of 10 I have to go back to new documents to choose a template because it opens with a plain document.

    The overall experience is too close to call and both suck in my book with MS Word on the desktop still being the gold standard.

    Common templates and full grammar are my minimal viable product criteria, otherwise I might as well be using evernote or some other notepad in the cloud…

  2. I’ve debated this before. When designing UX for CRUD it always comes up. Front-load the naming or save it for the end. It depends.

    However, with writing and word docs, it always seems to make better sense to leave it to the end. That is the way Word (Pages, G-Docs, etc) works now. How do I know what I want to name a doc before I write it? It usually changes a lot in process. Especially in creative writing. Heck, half the time I write something I don’t even save it. I decide to do something else or it changes so much I basically start over.

    Even from a system standpoint, the OS and App/Web don’t even care what it’s called or where it’s put at this point. It’s session information here in the DOM. The system can just assign a unique name to it and file it under recent docs.

    But the most compelling reason to put it at the end is the goal of the user. What was the user trying to do? Name and save a document? No. They are trying to WRITE something.

    Major miss here. Very surprising coming from the company that invented modern desktop publishing.

  3. It’s interesting that the Google Docs flow actually matches what the Microsoft Word client does — start with a blank document, choose name and settings once you save.

    I’d say that I like the Google Docs model better, but that may be just because it is the familiar model.

    Sometimes I don’t know what I’m going to do with a document. Maybe its goal changes — in that case, I don’t want to be tied to a name and privacy model right off the bat.

    Defaulting to public also gets on my nerves a little bit. Maybe I’m old school, but when it comes to my documents, I’d prefer to start private and open it up as indicated.

  4. I don’t use Google Docs, but the idea sounds nice. I also only use Live or the cloud, if I want to be sharing the document with someone. So the Microsoft Live screen is fine.

    Either way, neither has a large impact on me. I’m more concerned with how easy it is to share and define who can see it.

    Usually I am uploading documents anyway and not creating from scratch on the cloud.

    • If sharing and determining who can or cannot see your documents, you should definitely give Google Docs a shot. At least gain familiarity with it. I’ve used both pretty extensively, and will say without doubt, for ease of use, intuitive interface, and functional design Google Docs is really hard to beat. What I’ve posted is merely a small sampling of a rather well thought out design. I’ll have more in the follow up to this entry. Cheers! :)

  5. So between this entry, the Google+ and other places I posted it, almost everyone agrees except a single person that works at Microsoft that the Windows Live Microsoft Word Document Creation is kind of nuts. It doesn’t make sense to the flow or otherwise…

    Any others disagree?

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