Design principles for Windows 7

DSC_0049Long Zheng has put up some photos from the "Design principles for Windows 7" session at PDC. These really are general principles that we should all take into account designing software experiences.

The example of the jump lists in Windows 7 is interesting. By right-clicking on an application icon in the task bar or start menu, users will see a list of recent files opened in that application. This provides a great shortcut, and helps people to think in terms of the work they need to do (the document or file), rather than the application they need to use.

Of course, placing items in a right-click menu introduces a challenge of discoverability. An alternative was to place an ‘arrow’ icon to indicate there is a pop-up menu available. This would solve the discoverability problem, but introduces new problems:

  • Disrupts the visual rhythm of the task bar
  • Adds visual noise (more detail on the screen that people have to process)
  • Takes real-estate

I’m sure other alternatives were considered as well.

Did I mention that interaction design is all about compromise?

You can also see a video of a demo of the Windows 7 UI from PDC here: Windows 7 Demo

Comments (3)

  1. AJK says:

    Maybe that is why there is no arrow. If you are not the "explorer type", you will not find this and not be bothered with visual noice.

  2. Winston says:

    The recent builds I’m looking at actually show a stacked tile to indicate that multiple instances are running. Cursoring over the tile displays an auto-preview of the corresponding windows and you can cursor over the previews to bring the window to the front. Left clicking a preview will activate the window. This means that you don’t need to right click to get the pop-up list of instances and I think it will address the discoverability issue you described.