Microsoft announces partner initiative to improve app design

Even though there are now over 100,000 apps created for Windows 8's Modern user interface, that doesn't mean all of those apps are well designed. Microsoft now wants to give app developers and its third party partners a new avenue to learn how to make apps that will work well within Microsoft's new design principles.

As part of its Worldwide Partner Conference 2013 event, Microsoft has announced it will launch something called the User Experience Design Competency program. As described on Microsoft's Windows App Builders blog:

The competency will provide a way to train your designers and be recognized for your expertise in the Microsoft Design Language and App User Experience on Windows devices. It will ensure that all of our partners have access to the user experience and design foundation necessary to create innovative experiences that engage millions of users on the Windows platform.

Microsoft used the Great British Chefs app, shown above, as an example of what the company is looking for in terms of making apps that offer "beautiful experiences on the Windows platform." The User Experience Design Competency program will be handled through the Microsoft Partner Network but won't officially launch until January 2014.

Source: Microsoft | Image via Great British Chefs

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If Microsoft want better designs for there app they should throw some loot to Adobe so that All those languages are supported in Adobe Designer apps. I've been using Adobe products since 1993 and jumping to Blend or Visual studio just feels weird.

When I'm in Blend it just feels like i'm doing something wrong. Why not give use something like the new Photoshop where the CSS is created in the background, You can then export all that CSS with layout intact to Visual Studio for more refine coding. Adobe Edge Animate could also be used to do all the transitions,Animations.

Photoshop to HTML5 and CSS
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6RO4mRYlK8

"Microsoft used the Great British Chefs app, shown above, as an example of what the company is looking for in terms of making apps that offer "beautiful experiences on the Windows platform.""

It's rather unfortunate for Microsoft that their own stock apps so poor, that they're are on par with what they're trying to correct. Maybe Microsoft should take their ass out of their head and take a good look at what they, themselves, are doing with the platform.

Honestly, Microsoft could do with a major revamp of their own apps, not only in looks, but also functionality. Messaging hub? clean simple, lacks basic functionality, no file sending, no skype chat (lol, wtf were microsoft thinking here?) then Skype with it's dog ugly interface and doesn't even let you change the font size of messages.
The mail app, while it's now getting there with functionality it's cumbersome to use and with each update it seems they just trying to fit things in, rather then making it more of a metro experience ... (I'll leave the metro is crap jokes out for now).
Those two apps are largely forgiven, since I wouldn't trust a 3rd party app with my Microsoft Account details to login to skype/messenger or get my mail, and I don't expect anyone else to either...
However, their own photos app could be something really magical and beautiful, but instead it's almost like Microsoft is trying to push the basic apps onto 3rd party developers.
Last time I used photos app, it couldn't even import video files to the correct video folder so they weren't properly visible for playback ... honestly some basic functionality like that is missing across the board in apps..

Hopefully the Microsoft core apps team sign up to the partner initiative to improve their own app designs. While we're at it, can we send the desktop Skype team along too, maybe they can learn a thing or two.

sagum said,
"Microsoft used the Great British Chefs app, shown above, as an example of what the company is looking for in terms of making apps that offer "beautiful experiences on the Windows platform.""

It's rather unfortunate for Microsoft that their own stock apps so poor, that they're are on par with what they're trying to correct. Maybe Microsoft should take their ass out of their head and take a good look at what they, themselves, are doing with the platform.

Honestly, Microsoft could do with a major revamp of their own apps, not only in looks, but also functionality. Messaging hub? clean simple, lacks basic functionality, no file sending, no skype chat (lol, wtf were microsoft thinking here?) then Skype with it's dog ugly interface and doesn't even let you change the font size of messages.
The mail app, while it's now getting there with functionality it's cumbersome to use and with each update it seems they just trying to fit things in, rather then making it more of a metro experience ... (I'll leave the metro is crap jokes out for now).
Those two apps are largely forgiven, since I wouldn't trust a 3rd party app with my Microsoft Account details to login to skype/messenger or get my mail, and I don't expect anyone else to either...
However, their own photos app could be something really magical and beautiful, but instead it's almost like Microsoft is trying to push the basic apps onto 3rd party developers.
Last time I used photos app, it couldn't even import video files to the correct video folder so they weren't properly visible for playback ... honestly some basic functionality like that is missing across the board in apps..

Hopefully the Microsoft core apps team sign up to the partner initiative to improve their own app designs. While we're at it, can we send the desktop Skype team along too, maybe they can learn a thing or two.

Totally agree with you. Before Windows 8.1 RTM, all apps in the Windows Store need a redesign.

DARKFiB3R said,
Very much needed. Far too many apps are just horridly boring squares.

Tell me about it. Even Microsoft's homegrown apps are lacking in design. If they want more developers embracing the Metro philosophy it starts with their own apps.

That's what I'm talking about. Metro design philosophy separates Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 apps from the competition.

Yeah, definitely. but only when it works. I can't count the number of apps I have, which all use slightly different UI conventions. Just enough to throw me off, so this should help a lot I hope.

It is a good move, but I'm worried Microsoft are going to take it too far, and make it a set of rules rather than a set of ideas to think about and extrapolate from. They are a company that likes process' after all.

Part of what makes Great British Chefs so good is that it only follows the *ideas* of the design language, and then goes off to extrapolate from it with it's own design and ideas. It's not just following everything else on the system and following a basic set of templates and flows with the same layouts, animations, fonts, content types, etc. As long as Microsoft realise that's what makes it good - being different whilst still holding the Metro principles at heart, I'll be happy. I'm not sure they're up too it though