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WP7 Is Serious About Aesthetics and Consistency

The Windows Phone Developer Blog has posted “Windows Phone 7 Series UI Design and Interaction Guide”. It’s a 69 page pdf that contains a ton of information on aesthetics and continuity within applications and gives details on how apps must be written…and how friendly they must be. This includes things like the minimum size between check boxes, how wait cursors appear, etc. It’s actually a pretty interesting document to skim because it gives you a sense as you how serious MS is about providing a package that has a consistent look and feel throughout the entire experience. Interestingly, the have written three orientations: portrait, left landscape and right landscape (where the menus move from the left to the right side). The lefties may finally be recognized:)  There’s also a lot of time spent on voice and tone. I think this is funny interesting enough to put a chunk of the text here:

For applications, we would suggest friendly, lighthearted, and empathetic tones. Never use an angry or mechanical tone in the application. An example would be to use the voice and tone of a friend assisting another friend with something on the phone. The scenario might be helping them understand an error message that appears in the application. A developer shouldn’t offer a rigid, uninformative response when trying to explain an issue. For example, most end users will not relate to Error Code: 4560363. However, something such as There is some information missing here. Please enter your name in the text box to move to the next page.” will work. It is imperative to give them a meaningful response in a casual, comprehensive manner. Help them fix the problem in a way that they can understand.

Other examples include:

“Synchronize the phone device”. You would never tell a friend to do this. Instead use something like “sync your phone” as an alternative.

“Schedule a calendar event for tomorrow through Outlook.” Again, it is a poor example of text that is neither friendly nor representative of how a friend would speak. An alternative would be “Hey, you have to set up an appointment tomorrow in Outlook.”

Think MS wants you to love your phone?:) They also note that the hardware keys can never be overwritten by an application, so no mapping of the camera button is permitted and the ‘back’ button will never act as a backspace button. Also, physical keyboards cannot be used to navigate the UI – that’s why you have fingers:) Anyway, if you need something to pass the time between the games, take a look.