Microsoft Office Revamp – Cocolena Fong

During my daily routine of going to school and work, I never really paid much attention to the things I use everyday. For instance, when I need to search something on chrome, I immediately gravitate to the colourful circle and not really analyse the design it had. We were trained to associate these particular colours or shapes to be a certain company/website. As I began to analyze the apps that I had on my computer, I realized how much the logos of Microsoft Office Applications have changed overtime. When icons get changed, it’s often subtle and generally keeps a certain characteristic to let the users know that it’s this application but with Microsoft Office, they kept some characteristics but changed the overall aesthetic. Their reasoning for changing the icons was to let the users understand that there are improvements towards this new update and showcases a new era. 

Fig 1. Microsoft Office 2019 Design
Fig 1. Microsoft Office 2018 Design

Over the years, they wanted to keep a clean aesthetic, easy to navigate and collaborative atmosphere. They were able to do that by playing around with proportion and following gastalt principles. Their goal for their latest design change was to be very versatile in terms of device displays and promoting modern life. Jon Friedman is the art director of Microsoft and helped create clean and effective work spaces within these applications. He mentions that there was a solution “to decouple the letter and the symbol in the icons, essentially creating two panels (one for the letter and one for the symbol) that we can pair or separate.” (Friedman) allowing familiarity and simplicity within the application.

Fig 2. Microsoft Office 2018 Excel Design
Fig 2. Microsoft Office 2018 Excel Design

The second pannels are simplistic designs that showcases what the program does, for instance the excel sheet icon. The excel sheet icon displays variations of green rectangles and that is to represent the cell blocks within the program. For powerpoint , the second panel is a small circular design displaying a pie chart shape. Microsoft was able to have variations of colours but kept the same tones, shades and layout for each icon to fit the modern lifestyle.

Fig 3. Microsoft Office Evolution 2003 - present
Fig 3. Microsoft Office Evolution 2003 – Present

Here we can see the evolution of Microsofts Word icon. Within 2003, it only had a letter with a frame, it slowly transitioned to the 2007 version, displaying a more realistic approach. This allowed users to understand that it was for documents but within the span of 11 years, they transitioned from realistic to minimalistic. I really liked how they were able to make it minimalistic as you can still see what the program does and it’s also paired with a reasonable sized type at the front. Overall, the choiced that Microsoft’s design team made were affective as it displayed modern life and simplicity. 


Works Cited:

Friedman, Jon. “Redesigning the Office App Icons to Embrace a New World of Work.” Medium, Microsoft Design, 29 Nov. 2018,

Friedman, Jon. “Designing for Power and Simplicity.” Medium, Microsoft Design, 22 Aug. 2019,

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