Back to Front
The move from back to front-end design
Imagine Cup blog The majority of the work we've done in the past revolves purely around the back end of a system. Lately however there's been a shift from Back to Front-end design. Using Expressions and Windows Presentation Foundation we've been trying, "trying" being the operative word, to get the Digital Recovery Environment to look "Nice." It's certainly been an interesting experience...
None of us are artists, except for Andy who believes himself to be the next Spice Girl... but that's a different type of artist altogether. One thing we noticed is how a simple and functional design always seemed to turn out as the elephant man of the UI world. So over the past few days we've been prettying up the user interface and looking more at the User eXperience (UX.) There's a pretty useful guide available over at MSDN on how to make your applications fit in with the Vista Experience. It's not the most interesting read but it has some useful hints.
Since starting the project we've developed a greater appreciation for the process of UI/UX design. In the context of our application it is particularly important that the interface and experience be right for the user. With only a four button interface for interaction UI/UX development has been very limited. There's been a ton of mock-up designs produced and numerous outside observers feeding back on them. The feedback has been both invaluable and infuriating. If you thought changes in spec for a back-end system were annoying then you should try doing a little bit of UI/UX design. So many people have so many ideas of what your application should look like. In the end the three of us took some time out to sit in a room and have a brain storming session. What we decided was that whatever we discussed in that meeting would be our final approach to the UI/UX. From that point on there would be no major changes made and any changes that were made would be fairly superficial.
Following the meeting all previous mock-ups were scrapped and a new design was born. Work on the UI was carried out in isolation from the rest of the project until it was presented back to our friendly critics :-) Aside from a few art work suggestions the overall feedback was that the new UI/UX is no longer an Ugly Duckling!