Proceedings: GI 2000

Are We All in the Same “Bloat”?

Joanna McGrenere, Gale Moore

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2000: Montréal, Québec, Canada, 15 - 17 May 2000, 187-196

DOI 10.20380/GI2000.25

  • BibTeXex

    title = {Are We All in the Same "Bloat"?},
    author = {Joanna McGrenere and Gale Moore},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of the Graphics Interface 2000 Conference, May 15-17, 2000, Montr{'{e}}al, Qu{'{e}}bec, Canada},
    year = {2000},
    month = {May},
    pages = {187--196},
    url = {}


Bloat", a term that has existed in the technical community for many years, has recently received attention in the popular press. The term has a negative connotation implying that human, or system performance is diminished in some way when "bloat" exists. Yet "bloat" is seldom clearly defined and is often a catch-all phrase to suggest that software is filled with unnecessary features. However, to date there are no studies that explore how users actually experience complex functionality-filled software applications and most importantly, the extent to which they experience them in similar/different ways. The significance of understanding users' experience is in the implications this understanding has for design. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, we carried out a study to gain a better understanding of the experiences of 53 members of the general population who use a popular word processor, Microsoft Word, Office 97. As a result we are able to further specify the term "bloat", distinguishing an objective and subjective dimension. It is the discovery of the subjective dimension that opens the design space and raises new challenges for interface designers. There is certainly more to "bloat" than meets the eye.