With Surface, Zune HD, Bing…and now Windows 7 Mobile it seems that Microsoft has finally embraced the design/experience side of technology. While most people will never encounter a Surface device, at least not at it’s current state, this was a huge leap for Microsoft and human/computer interactions in general. For the most part it’s a living experiment of what the future may hold. The Zune HD and Windows 7 Mobile, on the other hand, are designed to be used by the masses, in the present and take their respective markets to a new level.
Inspired by the simplicity and universality of transportation graphics Microsoft calls there new design guidelines Metro. Beyond the name is the focus on creating a modern, stripped down, easy to navigate user interface based on common elements and typography. The use of typography as a key design element in the digital world is almost unheard of ; I would think design geeks should be overjoyed with this though I’ve barely seen any references to this from the general design world.
Along with typography here are a few of the highlights of Metro:
- Based on transportation signage: simple, universal, easy to skim
- General feel: Clean, light, open and fast
- Experience: should lead the design
- Consistent: common design treatments and transitions
- Flexible: Inviting developers to personalize their use of the guidelines to allow them to make their apps unique yet consistent
- User focused/Task focused: one primary action at a time
- Panoramic: apps not locked to a single screen
- Typography: as an element of beauty as well as to demonstrate hierarchy
- Transitions: are as important as the static page. Guidlines request to keep them simple and related, noting “the more you use it (transitions) the less special it becomes”
- Simplify, Simplify, Simplify: fierce reduction in unnecessary UI elements (chrome, non-related actions…)
Here is a link to a long but worthwhile video
(Silverlight required for inline, but you can also download non-Silverlight version)
Here’s the official Window’s phone site:
Overall, I’m excited to see smart-phones continue their evolution and Metro looks to be a great step forward. It’s also nice to see Microsoft (or anyone) not play catch up by porting over the status quo, but rather innovating beyond it.