Windows Phone 7, the new frontier. Or not.
After designing for all sorts of devices–iPhones (of course), iPads, Androids, Android tablets, Blackberries and antique flip phones (God forbid)–Windows Phone 7 was like coming up for a breath of fresh air. It was a bit daunting at first–designing for something that no one really has designed for–but I can’t let that dissuade me.
People ask me why I defend Windows Phone 7 or why I even enjoy using it to begin with. That’s a quick and easy answer (mindfully neglecting to mention any other quality such as the outstanding performance).
The main reason?
The interface is simple and easy-to-use. I know, I know. It’s a superficial reason but, hey, that’s part of my job.
The fun part is having to rethink your application’s navigation system, since the WP7 phone relies heavily on “Pivot” or “Panorama” navigations. The designer has to approach the architecture in an entirely different light than they would their iPhone or Android apps, which rely heavily on buttons. Quite simply put, applications built on Windows Phone 7 are forcefully simplified.
Quick Beginner Notes
a.k.a. things I wish someone had told me
· Microsoft has a library of PSD resources available for designers and developers that provide details on controls and native UI patterns. This is a quick starting to point to begin understanding and designing for the platform.
· There are 2 kinds of navigation controls, as mentioned earlier, “Pivot” and “Panorama”. “Pivot” controls could be compared to tab sets while “Panorama” is one wide screen or panoramic view (obviously).
· Keep in mind that “Panorama” screens and “Pivot” screens are both controlled by swiping horizontally. However, they can also scroll vertically. It’s important to keep the screen two dimensional, meaning there shouldn’t be additional boxes/maps/images overlaid on the screen that can also scroll horizontally or vertically.
· From experience, “Panorama” has always worked best as the initial screen after the application loading screen. Once the user has selected something from that initial screen, they are driven down to the “Pivot” control, where the breadth of the content lives.
· WP7 phones are equipped with a hardkey Back button as well as a contextual application bar across the bottom. This is important to remember when you’re sketching out user flows and architecture.