Designing Metro style: Being the Best on Windows 8

The other day, I published a post that contended that every developer has at least some responsibility for the design of the apps they’re working on, particularly if they don’t have the luxury of working with full-time designer on their project. The post also looked at some of the history of the Metro design language, and how the work that Microsoft is doing with Metro style apps in Windows 8, and the guidance we provide, can help developers build great apps.

no1_sm_2As developers, too often we don’t feel like we’re getting anything done until we start writing code, but when it comes to designing a great application, just cracking open Visual Studio and going to town isn’t going to give you the results that you want. I’ve had the privilege of sitting in on some training provided by the UX Evangelists in my organization, which included a great recommendation for how to get started on the right foot, and that’s to figure out the answer to the question “What is my app best at?” And it’s important to be able to answer this question succinctly and simply. Once you have a “best at” statement, it will guide you in identifying and prioritizing the core scenarios and features that support that “best at” statement.

Without a “best at” statement, the temptation may be strong to throw in every feature you can think of in an effort to outdo your competitors in a contest of who can come up with the longest bulleted list of features. This is not a recipe for success in a Windows 8 Metro style app. Why? Because it’s virtually impossible for an app to be “best at” everything, so being selective about the features you focus on is more likely to lead you to success.

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Why Developers Should Care About Design, and How Metro Helps

Or…I was a Teenage Design Have-not

I’m going to avoid casting aspersions on my fellow developers and instead simply own up to my own failings…I’ve been developing software since I was 10 years old (my first program was written in BASIC on a Commodore PET), and professionally for well over a decade, and for most of that time, I believed that design was someone else’s job, and that it didn’t matter whether I could design my way out of a paper bag.


Design is everyone’s responsibility, at least to some degree. No, you don’t have to start wearing black turtlenecks or engaging in other clichés, but what you should do is start cultivating a basic knowledge of design, and training your eye for what is and isn’t good design, both in the world of pixels as well as in the real world. Have you ever found yourself marveling at how difficult it is to figure out how to use some basic device? Listen to that voice in your head…it’s telling you that you’re dealing with a bad design.

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