UX Strategy Musings from Will Tschumy, Microsoft User Experience Advisor

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Intro to Metro, the design language of Windows Phone 7

December 3rd, 2010 by Will Tschumy

Now that Windows Phone 7 is in market, I can talk a little about some of the work I’ve been doing.  Part of being in DPE means that I’m responsible for helping the early adopters build great experiences on new products.  I’m a big fan of the design work that went into Windows Phone 7 – it’s incredibly smart – it’s also different from everything else out there.  While the team has done a great job building documentation (the Metro UX Guidelines), I’ve found in my customer work that they need a voice over.

One area where Windows Phone differentiates itself from the competition is this idea of a “Live Tile.”  When thinking about your application, it’s easy to forget about this – you can’t, however.  The Live Tile is the start of your conversation with your users.


In most cases, application enter into an opening Panorama.  The Panorama is maybe the most quintessential Windows Phone experience.  An example:




The Panorama is a visual display of what your application does – in addition to this, it provides enough glancable information for your users to understand what part of your application they might want to explore further.  The Panorama is your first, best chance to make a good impression – make sure you fully take advantage of it – use the background, express your brand!

When Windows Phone 7 was first announced, and in my conversations with customers, there’s been some confusion about the difference between the Panorama and the Pivot.


Pivots are about drilling down to a specific decision, or looking at a facet of your data in more detail.  While the left / right swipe may be similar between the Panorama and the Pivot, they’re at opposite ends of a user’s experience!


Part of drilling down on a facet of information is taking action.  Often, you’ll see an Application Bar.  This is the one predictable spot where your users will go to perform actions.  The App bar can hold a maximum of 4 icons, and another 5 items in the menu below it.  It may feel weird to not have a big button floating on the screen, but trust me, love the App Bar.

The above is a very high-level overview of the key aspects of the Windows Phone 7 UX.  As your building your app, remember the following key points:

  • Metro helps you and your users solve problems consistently
  • Embrace motion as a way to convey importance and emotion
  • Have a single left margin for all your elements on screen
  • Experiment!

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