Windows 8 Design Review

Recently, I was invited to the Windows 8 UX Design Camp in NYC. Interested in learning more about Windows 8 and eager to gain another UX perspective, I gladly accepted the invitation. During the two-day training, the self-proclaimed ‘User Experience Evangelists’, explained the core concepts of Windows 8 design and how to apply them to your own Windows Store application. 

The core concepts to creating a Windows Store application are fairly simple and straightforward. I found one particular concept very helpful, and it can be used when creating any type of application. The evangelists referred to this core concept as a ‘best at statement.’ A best at statement is the very first step when creating an application. 

To begin writing a best at statement, you must ask yourself two questions: 

1. What is the purpose of this application?

2. What sets this app apart from all of the other apps in its category?

Once you have answered these questions, challenge yourself to focus on one single concept that will drive the majority of the application. If your application does not have a singular focus, it can become very easy to add unnecessary features, therefore, reducing the quality of the user experience. The purpose of a best at statement is to guide your design decisions as you create your application. The statement should be short and concise. Here is an example of a best at statement from Microsoft’s website: 

“My travel app is best at helping friends create itineraries collaboratively for group trips.” 

I believe this core concept is very helpful for designers when creating any type of application. Once a best at statement is completed, designers can refer to this to ensure they are staying on track throughout the creation of their app.

Another core concept I found particularly interesting is the idea of content before chrome. Unlike many iOS applications, Windows 8 focuses on the content of the application rather than the supporting features such as navigation, toolbars, search boxes and so on. Instead of filling the screen with these types of features, Windows 8 wants the user to focus directly on the application’s content. In Windows 8, these features are hidden and can be engaged by swiping from certain areas of the screen. For example, a user would swipe from the right edge of the screen to the left to reveal system commands such as search and sharing options. I believe this concept of content before chrome is an interesting take on a user’s experience and I’m interested to see if this will start being introduced throughout other types of UX design. 

Overall, I support the majority of the core concepts for Windows 8 design. However, with the mass appeal of iOS devices, I’m not sure how much attention Windows 8 design will receive. But as with anything in life, only time can tell.


Written by Kathryn

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