I was trying to explain to a friend why I hate the experience of writing in Microsoft Word. I couldn’t convey it last night, but thinking about it this morning I believe it has to do with the extent to which the tool gets in the way of the writing. There’s so much to manage in Word that I find it hard to focus on my writing1. Instead, I end up in an epic battle of paragraph, character, and style formats that feels more like a war of attrition than an enjoyable task.
I went looking for an image I remembered from David Pogue’s 2006 TED Talk, Simplicity Sells. I think this represents my problem with Word perfectly:
Image credit to Jono Bacon
That’s taken to an absurd level, but even with just a few menus showing I have an ominous sense that I’m using the wrong tool. In contrast, a tool like Byword just feels out of the way. I’m able focus on the text without worrying about whatever it is all those menus do in Word.
When you need a 408-page For Dummies book to understand your word processor, I’m inclined to think the tool may be overkill for the job. ↩