We are proud that our controls are not only excellent development tools but they also excel in appearance, styling, great usability and overall user experience. This is a result of the united efforts of the whole team of our developers and us - the UX and UI designers here in Telerik. Our brand new RadControls for Windows Phone 7 and the all new Metro design guidelines bring so many new UX challenges that we thought it would be a good idea to share them with you and to hear your thoughts, which are of great value for us. This is the first of series of blog posts that will cover in-depth most of the tricky moments of the entire design process in our daily work.
The main differences of the mobile platform from the desktop one are in the hardware capabilities, the smaller screen sizes, the user input throughout touch gestures, and in the distracting and various environments surrounding the user. At the same time those constraints mean that you have to focus and emphasize on the essence of your application and the value it would bring to the user; exactly these make the mobile user experience special. The constraints should not be judged as restrictions; on the contrary, they should be taken as opportunities for growth and innovation and of course as a challenge.
Designing our first mobile app - the RadControls for Windows Phone 7 demo, though, was even more challenging. A UX designer for desktop moving to mobile is a hard step to do. Lucky for us we had these amazing guides from Microsoft for their entirely different approach of designing for mobile called Metro UI.
Let me share with you why I love the Metro style so much.
First of all everything is focused on the content and, as we know, content matters. During a typical day our mobile phone is involved in various activities at home and at work, when waiting in lines, and another thousand times in the day. It is our choice and we rely on it to get the information which is personally bond to us, to deliver the news about our friends as fast as possible, to be our distraction and entertainment. It could only happen if the focus is on the content – because the content represents us – our interests, our friends and family, our work, our time.
Secondly I truly adore these clean lines and shapes, the bright colors and the fresh message. With a gentle hint of Swiss style graphic design the Metro UI is aiming at simplicity and “form that follows function” principle. The attention of the detail, the emphasis on the typography, the grid based approach are admirable and I honestly don’t know a designer that will not be caught in. I have to say it is hard not to think as a designer when using Windows Phone 7 but I’m trying to look at it not only from a designer’s perspective. An ordinary user would say that it is clean and simple and extremely easy to use.
We can’t talk for the user experience without saying a word about the animations. The experience should be enjoyable, fun and emotional appealing. Only in that way it will be memorable. By far with the focus on the content and the lines’ purity the job of enhancing the usability at the highest level is pretty well done. For creating unforgettable experience though we need the final touch of the Windows Phone 7 animations. They put smiles on our faces being smooth and natural, but most of all they are context aware; not only pleasant to watch but there for the sake of function. They make user to feel that is on the right way navigating through the phone, not to get lost anywhere anxious and even angry.
It is as simple as that – I love Metro style because it cares for the user experience. Windows Phone 7 is fun to use, easy to satisfy your goals with it and finally it puts a stress on the experience. So what is our job here as UX professionals? A designer will never lack things to do in exploring this entirely different approach with an emphasis on the experience.
I hope you have already tried our demo app. If you haven’t, then grab it from the marketplace or download it from our site. And do not hesitate to send us your feedback or to share your thoughts. If you are curious about designing mobile apps especially for Windows Phone 7 stay tuned for more articles to follow.
Nina Zayakova is UI & Interaction designer in Windows Phone team in Telerik since the early days of the new Windows Phone (and later Windows 8) style UI. She thinks that Microsoft "modern" UI has a lot of possibilities yet to be invented and its full power yet to be revealed. She strongly believes that user experience should never be compromised in any circumstances. You can read more from Nina on Twitter at @myninka.
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