Although Zoho has been on point in terms of applications, strategic alliances and general expansion, their aesthetic functionality component has remained stagnant for quite a while. That is, until now.
The launch of their updated word processor -- Zoho Writer 2.0 -- includes a fresh new user interface and a slew of improvements revolving mostly around look and feel.
For all the hardcore Zoho fanatics afraid of change, don’t worry. The core frame remains the same with document listing on the left, editor on the right, multiple documents as tabs, etc. Zoho Writer 2.0’s new interface philosophy acts as more of an enhancement. With sights set high, the company also hopes their improvements to be effective enough to raise the bar for user interfaces everywhere.
"Zoho Writer 2.0 represents a major overhaul of our user interface," said Raju Vegesna, Zoho evangelist. "We set out to improve user's productivity, fine tune the application, and establish a consistent UI across the entire Zoho suite. We believe we achieved these three goals in Writer 2.0."
Let’s see if they’re worthy.
Old vs. New
The biggest change is easily what Zoho is calling their ‘MenuTab’ interface. In the previous version, the core functionality was available as links and buttons in three rows. But as Zoho’s features grew over the past three years, the number of buttons increased and users often experienced difficulty in trying to find the right one. Here's a before shot:
Zoho Toolbar Before Shot
The difference with MenuTab interface is that it categorizes the features as tabs based on functionality, rather than buttons based on…buttons. In the new version you’ll see tabs for 'Format', 'Insert', 'Review' etc. Tabs now work as menus, a feature that at this point no one who uses a computer on any kind of basis should be unfamiliar with. Take a look:
Zoho Toolbar After Shot
Zoho invites you to wave farewell to tool tips as well, with the MenuTab interface allowing enough space to explicitly mention what each button does - both under the tab as well as under Menus. And in continuation of better usage of screen real estate, Zoho Writer 2.0 now also groups commonly used features like Save, Undo/Redo, Cut/Copy/Paste, etc. beside the MenuTabs, allowing easy and constant access.
Those familiar with Zoho Sheet will feel immediately at home with this enhancement. The new sidebar enables users to streamline workflow with features to multi-select documents and perform actions. Additionally, the icons beside the document name show if the doc is shared or public, and there is now a Search option available.
All in all the updates are welcome changes and surely wonderful for the company, but let’s face it: nothing about them is innovative or game-changing. In fact, these new features are things we’ve come to automatically expect. We wonder, what is the point of aiming to raise the standards bar for everyone if (almost) everyone has already raised it themselves? We are however, glad to see Zoho catching up with the aesthetic times and staying afloat. The company and their numerous offerings are definitely things we consciously make an effort to keep on our radar.
For a more detailed listing of Zoho Writer 2.0’s new features and functionality (including changes to Header/Footers, Page Views, Collaborative Editing, etc.) visit their site here.