Be Ribbon Hero (and have fun doing it)

Crabby Office Lady: (c) Microsoft Crabby Office Lady

An old Crabby saying: "Work is work. Otherwise they'd call it 'play.'" Today I'm reconsidering. With this new game called Ribbon Hero, your work time can also be your play time.

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When the new Ribbon user interface was introduced for Office 2007, good gracious, did we get an earful of moaning and groaning. But eventually you found your way by reading up on it, using interactive guides, watching demos, and maybe just through trial and error.

Okay, so, you've gotten through the Ribbon elementary school — an accomplishment in itself, for certain. But now it's time to move up to the Ribbon school of higher learning. So today I want to add another way to not just learn how to use the Ribbon, but how to become a master at it.

What is Ribbon Hero?

First, let me tell you about Office Labs, a virtual place here at Microsoft to which anyone within the company can submit ideas and concepts. An example of a project created by Office Labs is Community Clips, a one-year experiment that invited participants to browse, view, share, and discuss informal "how-to-use" Office videos from around the world. It also gave users the ability to record their own screens and voice, so that they could create and share their own training videos.

The idea of Ribbon Hero was also hatched at Office Labs as a way to encourage Office users to learn, through game play, how to be more productive in Office —using, what else, the Ribbon. Teaching through game play is becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason: It works. The point of this experiment is to discover whether scoring points, competing with friends, and earning achievements will motivate people to explore the ribbon more in-depth.

How do you play Ribbon Hero?

It's simple, really: You just start working in the program. With each command you earn points, certain commands (recording macros, using Style Sets) earning you more points than others (using Bold, Italic, or Underline). You also earn points by playing challenges and then by making use of the skills you've learned during the various challenges.

 Note   Ribbon Hero is designed to work with Excel 2007, Word 2007, and PowerPoint 2007 as well as those three programs in Office 2010, available as a beta download here.

The Ribbon Hero "watches" what you do and then suggests challenges for you to do, to expose you to new features.

Interested in how your coworkers and friends are doing in Ribbon Hero? From the Ribbon Hero dialog box (where your challenges are presented and your scores recorded) you can connect to Ribbon Hero on Facebook to record your scores, see others' scores, and even discuss your experiences.

Watch Ribbon Hero in action

Doug Thomas, the writer and creator of the Office Casual videos, has a video about how Ribbon Hero works and why it's one of the best "training + fun" activities he's seen in a while. Watch Doug's video.

Okay, so look: The download is free, you can play on your own time, and you'll get better each passing day. What more motivation do you need?

Try Ribbon Hero today and watch your office productivity skyrocket.

"We can't all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by." — Will Rogers

About the author

Annik Stahl, the Crabby Office Lady columnist, takes all of your complaints, compliments, and knee-jerk reactions to heart. Therefore, she graciously asks that you let her know whether this column was useful to you — or not — by entering your feedback using the Did this article help you? feedback tool below. And remember: If you don't vote, you can't complain.

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