Designers, Designers, Designers..

Q.What do you expect from Microsoft going forward in the design space.

I meet with a lot of customers in many forms of communication. I often am surprised not by the “we are thinking of adopting Silverlight/WPF” meetings but more, “We have adopted them, but we need help”.

When I get to the bottom of it, it’s something they face, well all face universally, in that “we need more muses / inspiration”.

I used to struggle with this years ago, when I conjured creations inside Flash. I’d sit there for hours struggling to bend Photoshop to somehow produce a design that I could take to the next level.

My intent was to always raise the bar, both personally and hopefully amongst my peers.

I see this as a critical flaw in the Adobe & Microsoft campaign going forward, in that where do people go to draw inspiration and what life raft can be thrown to them should they stare at the blank <CANVAS>.

Steve Ballmer has stated we committed to design, and we have lots of talent inside the firewall whom – we probably don’t amplify enough. It’s something I’m keen to explore further but, you the audience, the readership. What would you like to see from Microsoft around design,.

What are we doing wrong? (keep it constructive heh).

Comments (9)

  1. Perry says:

    Great question! Fortunately I believe the answer is easy.

    Microsoft provides great development tools, but they lack the professional UX behind it. For example, take a look at the ASP.NET GridView control (actually all data controls for that matter). It’s a great control from a technical point of view, but have you seen what the styling templates look like?!? OMG, they are from 90s. Stop having developers create styling templates!

    So where do I get my inspiration, well from an outside source:

    But Matt’s inspiration comes from the YUI controls and lately from LinkedIn. Point being MS needs to push that can of design styling and templating out of the box and then have designers blog about using MS controls to apply new styles.

    I had a similar experience with WPF. I was convinced about using WPF, but I need to find an example/sample to show the power of using Resource templates. Take a look at WPF samples that come with the SDK for yourself. There are enourmous amounts of samples (probably hundreds). Then look at home many show off the UX of WPF. Less than a handful. As a developer I had a tough job to convincing people about the UX of WPF because of that.

    So what can be done moving forward? *Get those designers to review all sample code and controls that get out to the developers.*

  2. steven says:

    You’re not doing anything wrong. There is only one area where Microsoft better get their sh*t together and I mean soon. And that area is Vista. Day in and day out I am seconds away from throwing this Vista Machine through the f*cking wall. It is that frustrating to use. I love Microsoft Technologies. I love the developer tools. I’ve been using MS for over 10 years. I’m very close to hanging it up and being done with MS forever because of Vista. Let me repeat. I have to take many breaks and step away from my BRAND NEW POWERFUL VISTA Machine because I’m about ready to throw it out the window and SMASH IT TO BITS and be done with MS for good. Improve Vista that is what matters. Your other tools and technologies don’t mean anything to me when I sit here and try to work with Visual Studio but Vista freezes for no f*cking reason 30 times a day for over 30+ seconds each time. Or Vista has something running in the background NONSTOP ALL THE TIME. Yes, your honor I HAVE VISTA RAGE Syndrome. I love Microsoft and this Vista operating system is going to make me stop using Microsoft Technology — it is that bad. Improve the OS; nothing else matters at this point. Sorry for the rant, but I’m very close to throwing this Vista Machine through the f*cking wall. Cheers. HTH

  3. Mark says:

    My 2 cents (sorry if its a bit long)

    1. One comment that comes up again and again in the platform debates is that designers currently use Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash etc and will not see any need to move away, thus perhaos not explore the  Microsoft options. I think Microsoft needs have a strong two prongerd approach. The first is probably the current one of making the Expressions tools as good and rich as possible to try and win over designers, but that really must be a long term strategy. For quick adoption of SIlverlight by designers Microsoft needs to demonstrate (and perhaps figure out) how designers can use their existing tools (e.g. Ilustrator) to create awesome Silverlight based sites rather than trying to get them to jump ship on both platform and tools.

    2. Silverlight 2 has been announced with the bog standard controls – buttons etc. This is a developer mindset and will do nothing to push UI to a new level where it is worthwhile using Silverlight over HTML. I still think those controls are necessary but they are not inspiring. MS has to put some brain juice into how RIA can truly make UI better, not just vector based.

    3. The most exciting things happening in Silverlight are the open source projects going on, namely Silverlight Tweener and the Farseer Physics engine. In flash the opensource Papervision 3d engine is the cutting edge. MS needs to get on board these. I don;t mean take over by any means but one thing MS is really great at is tutorials and that is one thing that OS projects are often poor at. Perhaps some MS resource could be spent on creating some great tutorials on how to use these in amazing ways and how to incorporate these into projects.

  4. Personally, I think there are two main things that need to happen.

    1. Blend needs to stay focussed on designers.  Allow me to elaborate.  When a user fires up Blend and starts a new project, they are prompted with a variety of options.  Essentially, these options force someone to choose between a "WPF Application" or a "Silverlight Application".  This is problematic because it automatically puts someone on the defense who doesn’t know what the difference between these technologies are.  Instead, I thnk the option of a wizard needs to be included i.e. Are you creating a web application or a desktop application.  I know these lines are blurring, but it’s important to not let individuals to get lost in the mix.

    2. The experience needs to be considered from end-to-end.  From installation to removal and everything in between.  I think this is one thing the Office 2007 team got right.  They did a pretty good job of designing the main products within 2007 from end-to-end.  On the flip side, I cannot say the same for Windows.  There are all sorts of dialog boxes and such that are left over from eons ago.

  5. Jose Fajardo says:

    Hey mate, me personally i look for

    1. Inspiration from fellow enthusiasts that know what im going thru

    2. Way to share blend assets or templates with others, maybe even a marketplace ?

    3. A forum dedicated to design type of threads

  6. anonymous says:

    I am absolutely dumb founded by the fact that Microsoft is seriously asking this question. Ok let’s see… how about:

    1) Support the Mac platform with your tools. Perhaps you haven’t noticed yet that 95% of the design world is using Macs.

    2) It sounds strange I know but it also appears that the majority of designers are using Macs because their brains are wired in ways that let them connect better with that platform. Being both a designer and developer my self I seem to torn between both worlds. I use both Macs and Windows PCs but must my wiring is starting to lean more towards Macs. It’s hard to explain and you need to experience it for yourself to understand.

    I think this is fundamentally where Microsoft (and most of Microsoft people) don’t get designers.

    3) Designers are generally not geeks. I believe Microsoft (especially through it’s evangelist programs) portraits itself as a geek company.

    4) People started using Flash because it allowed them to do things they couldn’t do on the web before. Look at people like Joshua Davis, Yugo P, Colin Mook, Grant Skinner and you know what I am talking about. It was through these explorations the corporate world started listening and could eventually see the benefits for them… (just think of Flash Video Player for the Intranet. No more cross platform video support headaches.)

    Silverlight essentially doesn’t offer designers anything new they can’t do already with their existing skills.

    5) The last point is probably the most important. In generally Microsoft doesn’t offer designers anything they can’t already do with their existing tools.

    If you really want to convert designers you will need Evangelists that actually understand designers and you will need to offer designers something they actually find useful and necessary to do new and never before done things… and most importantly, let them do this with their choice of operating system. Don’t try and force Windows upon us.

  7. ~W~ Neil says:

    Hi, well you said you talked to customers who had already adopted, and thats fine, but with the new tools Microsoft has given to students, you have a much bigger customer base on the way. All of who don’t get to go to colledge just to learn all of this, at least not yet but managed to get our hands on these grate tools, and now we got no idea what they do. Please help get us started. The start page on visual studio for example has no 101 projects. if your customers need help it is the basics that didn’t get covered as they are now still.

    Thank you for asking, Tell Bill I said Thanks for the tools.~W~ Neil

  8. mar0364 says:

    I want to be approached as a professional that does a valuable job. Not just someone that bother Application Developers.

  9. Gary Barber says:

    Developers here are going to hate me.

    Its simple, Stop developers producing the design and the user interfaces.  

    Leave that to the people that live and breath it day in and out.  The people that spend their time getting to the core of the psychological response to an interface.

    If Microsoft wants to be in this space, it has to step aside from the developer view point (which they don’t seem to be able to do) and embrace the designer fully.  At the moment things are too developer centric in EVERY aspect of even design tools.  Frankly MS isn’t even in the right mindset to engage the design community.  

    And as @anonymous  said – support OS X or the designer will just laugh at you.