Feeds

Windows 8

Apple iOS 7 makes some users literally SICK. As in puking, not upset

Excessive zoom and 3D-effect graphics in Apple's latest iOS is leaving some users reaching for the sick bucket

Information is the UI in Windows 8, says design guru

How to make sense of the desktop formerly-known-as-Metro

Remote control for virtualized desktops

TechEd Australia The interface formerly known as Metro (TIFKAM) makes the information applications present their user interface, and developers need to realise that and stop polluting software with the kind of buttons and icons elements they've grown up with.

That's the opinion voiced by Shane Morris of Automatic Studio, now a user interface consultant but once a Microsoft user interface evangelist, at Microsoft Australia's TechEd conference today.

Morris' talk was titled “How to be authentically digital”, a term used by Microsoft to describe its new ethic of letting pixels be pixels instead of imbuing UI elements with shading so they resemble real-world objects. Morris gleefully described this practice as “designer wank”. He also described the initial TIFKAM screen as the “Asian supermarket screen, because everything is yelling at you and you don't know where to look.”

Which is not to say Morris dislikes TIFKAM, as he explained it uses proven design techniques and philosophies drawn from “Wayfinding” (signage in airports, train stations and other public places), typography (The Swiss School) and moving type (The opening titles to Hitchcock's North by Northwest are apparently seminal so we've popped them in below).

Those influences mean TIFKAM doesn't use the interactive vocabulary of the desktop GUI. Instead, Morris says, “We focus on content and the information people need to consume.”

Developers must therefore strive to “present the information well enough it can form the user interface.” Which is not to say that users are to be left without things to click on, but Microsoft has hidden them in TIFKAM's Apps Bar and Charm bar, decoupling UI elements from apps.

“A consistent UI and place for people to look for search, share and settings means users don't have to need to learn a new UI for each app,” Morris explained, adding that it's not sensible to assume that users have discovered the Charm or Apps bars. Most users do so quickly, he said. Others take up to five minutes to do so.

Morris said Developers need to understand these new elements, and also assess whether they are right for their apps. Business apps, he said may not work in this context, with more familiar icon-driven UI elements still available for apps that just won't fit into TIFKAM's design paradigm.

That split, he said, is not new, arguing that Microsoft has been making content-centric interfaces since the days of Expedia Encarta CD-ROMs and has continue to do so with products like Media Centre and Zune.

Mainstream developers will therefore need to come to terms with content-centric interfaces and the elements they offer, one of which is animation. Moving images, he said, even offer the chance to tap into users' primal instincts as we are attuned to interpreting fast-moving objects in peripheral vision as worthy of attention (if only to avoid being eaten by an approaching predator). Using animation to show users something is worthy of their attention is a new interface tactic he feels will be useful.

The bad news, Morris added, is that using animation “doesn't come naturally to me”. He's not sure it will come naturally to any developer, given that most are used to working in rather different ways.

But developers don't need to get too hung up on their animation skills, he added, as good design for Windows 8 apps, or any other, starts with decisions about what an application is intended to achieve, rather than just how it will look and behave. ®

Watch Video

The author travelled to TechEd, ate and slept as a guest of Microsoft.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
NSA SOURCE CODE LEAK: Information slurp tools to appear online
Now you can run your own intelligence agency
Microsoft: Your Linux Docker containers are now OURS to command
New tool lets admins wrangle Linux apps from Windows
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
You stupid BRICK! PCs running Avast AV can't handle Windows fixes
Fix issued, fingers pointed, forums in flames
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.