First of all, personally I share your conclusion on most parts and appreciate
your work really. That should be an excuse for my following objections ;-).
You should keep in mind that LO is used on many OS with different themes and
has therefore more than one icon set (can be configured).
In our analysis  we found similar results about your assumption on
problematical icons. However, whether or not an icon is understood fast and
reliable depends on many aspects like button position, tooltip/label,
functionality etc., and not on single icon design only.
Usage is not a good indicator (or better: should not be the only reason) to
add/remove toolbar items. For instance, I (and probably most others) use the
'non-printing characters' button rarely but want not abstain from the fast
The basic question is where LO goes. Microsoft has done a step forward with
Ribbon controls (that is the opposite to your idea) and maybe we find the
other way with simplification at Google's tools. I guess LO is used for its
conventional user experience. That means all functions reside in the main
menu and some have fast access at the toolbar. Those items need to be
grouped (small separator lines between), it should be heterogeneous enough
for easy perception (not like 'spelling and grammer' and spellchecking), but
homogeneous to reduce distraction and clutter. With more experience the
toolbars should be enhanceable (e.g. I use toolbars for Standard, Format,
and Draw functions, show the Navigator sidebar - which is a great feature -
and have a sidebar with available formattings) but for your novice user it
should be simple.
So why don't we improve the adjustment dialog (you can define your toolbars
as you want right now) and have some kind of presets?
Last but not least I'm not sure that LO users are that novice. We need
Persona for those discussions, based on real data.
@Astron: I was looking for OO's tracking results some time ago. The data is
not accessible anymore. It would be great to have good data to analyse and
even better if it comes from LO.
(More results will follow soon)
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