But, because I’m a Mac user, the instructions to enable the feature were wrong. Here’s the docs page:
OK, so, technically there is a little disclaimer that informs me as to which versions are covered in this topic, and my version of Excel isn’t on the list. Listing the supported versions is slightly better than nothing, but it’s still a terrible user experience. It’s the digital equivalent of hanging a sign that reads “not this way” on a dead end. When you have multiple versions of your product in the marketplace, your docs need to support that, especially considering that this is Microsoft we’re talking about. They have nearly unlimited resources. I expect a good documentation experience, especially since it’s not that hard or expensive in today’s world if you have the right tools and content strategy.
Getting back to my form controls problem, it turns out the correct steps for me were:
Click Excel > Preferences > Ribbon & Toolbar > Select the Developer check box, and click Save.
This is significantly different than either of the options presented, so it took me a few minutes to figure it out. The overall experience was frustrating, and strongly reinforced my opinion that Microsoft doesn’t care about me as a user because I’m a Mac owner, whether or not that’s actually true.
The correct experience here would have been to ask me which version of Excel I’m using (and store that information as a cookie on my computer so I’m only asked once) then display an article that relates specifically to my version. This can be a pop up when I enter the site, or simply a drop down at the top of the article.
This isn’t an extraordinary expectation. We do this on our documentation site:
I’ll leave you with a shameless plug. If you want a documentation site that works better than Microsoft’s and tells your users that you care, give us a call.
Patrick is a software industry professional specializing in developing, productizing, and solving problems with product content software. He is a highly skilled developer, thoughtful manager, passionate customer advocate.