There’s one reason I’m particularly excited about Windows Phone 7 Series. The radically reworked look and feel is the surest sign that the company is really beginning to understand design and is willing to start from scratch (a risky and pricey proposition) to get it right. It would appear from Microsoft’s Principal Researcher Bill Buxton’s interview in The Register that I’m not the only one who thinks this:
"We kinda changed the water that we drink, in the sense that all through the design community within the company we talk, and we have a common goal in terms of trying to bring a certain change of sensibility," he said.
"For me it's not even about the phone, but what's interesting is that it's the first product in the company with critical mass that's embraced this ... it will have an impact on other parts of the company."
If (or better still, when) you start building Windows Phone applications – or hey, any kind of application -- I hope that you’ll follow the spirit of “Metro” (the codename for the design philosophy behind Windows Phone 7) and keep it in mind. Yes, it’s absolutely important to know the Silverlight and XNA APIs as well as how to read the touch sensors, GPS, accelerometers and so on, but it’s just as important to design your applications around the people who’ll use them. That means understanding your users, how they’ll use what you’re making, knowing how to give them what they need as quickly and unobtrusively as possible and delighting them. Yes, “a pretty interface” is included in all that – and there’s research to suggest that beautiful interfaces work better --but looks are merely part of the design equation.
Some Design Sessions from MIX10
Want some interesting lunchtime viewing on design? Look no farther than these two videos.
The first is Bill Buxton’s MIX10 session, simply titled An Hour with Bill Buxton, a conversation about design:
If you haven’t the time to watch the video of Buxton’s presentation, check out this hit list of metaphors complied by Sharon Chan at Microsoft Pri0.
If you’re planning on getting into Windows Phone 7 design, you’re going to want to learn the “design language” – not a programming language, but the guiding principles and philosophies behind the new user experience – behind it. Here’s the MIX10 presentation on that topic, Designing Windows Phone 7 Series with Albert Shum, Michael Smuga and Chad Roberts:
A World Without Design
Here’s a little something extra for those of you who like to think about design and user experience:
I whipped up this graphic, modelling it after a poster I remember seeing many years ago. I can’t remember what it was for – a museum, art gallery or exhibit, perhaps? – but I remember thinking that it was right on the money. If you remember the original poster and what it was for, please let me know, either via email or the comments!