I just saw Windows 10 Mobile screenshots and oh god no.
8 on the left, 10 on the right. The blue squares don’t stay this way once you have a couple pictures. They show up and make it look good, son. Personally, the 80s desktop real file looking icon has to disappear. 2015 ffs.
I have been using Windows phones since early 2011. The stark design and simplicity of the OS have been fantastic to me. Not only competition never looked attractive –kind of a first time ever with MS products-, competition started to seriously look like my phone with iOS 7 and whatever Android version brought the square and flat design all over the place. I would stop on gadget blogs and be like “wait, is this on WP?”.
I think the WP design team was far ahead and still is in their vision.
Yep 20 people, 8 women. Almost parity. I don’t know, it feels right.
Good design makes a product useful.
All the built-in features of WP makes it extremely useful without downloading apps, out of the box. It is good design to integrate services like they did in the people hub, how the Facebook chat is baked in –you don’t have to use it-, the possibility to update multiple social network at once etc. Think about it: no app to search for, no website to visit to look at the offer, no app to install, no app to learn, no app to update. It’s just a login/pwd and there you go, your content, contacts etc. Imagine today something like Ello instead of having to use a terrible web app you would just login and update on your phone exactly like you do with other networks.
This is good design.
Of course, business and strategy wise that’s not making anyone happy but Microsoft. And the user. Because partners complained and don’t want to depend on MS, Microsoft successively took those features away with 8.1 and now Windows 10. So you have to download “official” apps now, for everything.
I haven’t updated yet.
Good design helps us to understand a product.
Icons are stupid. There, I said it. Icons regardless of how good they look, always have to be guessed. Or need text. WP went brutal on this: TEXT. No visual distraction. It’s very bold but one thing is sure: you know exactly what you’re doing and what you’re clicking. It is honest. Good design is honest, doesn’t try to impress you with busyness.
Good design is unobtrusive.
Which is not the case with notification centers and red dots of FOMO and battery %. That shit is obtrusive! It is telling you constantly “watch me, hey, hey, look something happen, look bright colors, emergency hey hey”. WP design is all about opting in. Yes, you have to choose to unlock your screen to look at notifications. Immediacy is not the only thing that matters in the world, far from that actually.
Good design is as little design as possible.
And that’s where I see WIndows 10 going all Frankenstein annoys me. I understand the challenge: make something different, that will make both developers and users happy. Developers and users are used to iOS/Android and Windows pre 8 UX, MS needs to cater to that insanely diverse and massive crowd. Developers want/need to code as less as possible. This is also consistent with Microsoft’s will to have their apps on all platforms regardless, since the 1980s. So, design compromise for a billion reasons.
The problem is design kind of has to be something you impose without compromise. If you start following trends that makes you look weak, usability gets confusing and people think you are a follower. To create trends you need to stick to them. To gain respect you need to stand still, show interest in people who understand what you’re doing and improve on their feedback. Ain’t happening.
It seems clear that since Steven Sinofsky left after Win8, design centric MS wasn’t into design so much anymore. People as usual with innovative things, hated Win8 by default (remember all the people hating the iPhone’s lack of buttons?). But if you look at forums now, tons of people are as usual with innovative things, liking Win8. I’ve seen people apologize!
It just needed time and now that the public is getting used to it, MS dilutes something they had that was unique, discerning.
Timing is a bitch and ultimately, Microsoft wants market share more than identity. Not sure it’s the best bet, good design is hard. They mostly had it.