Windows 8 Metro app design tips offered by Microsoft

The Windows 8 operating system not only has a normal desktop UI but also the touch screen-centric Metro user interface. That also means that Windows 8 Metro apps must have elements of that UI. So how do you make a Windows 8 Metro app that conforms to those design principles while also making it different from your standard app?

In the newest entry on the official Windows 8 app developer blog, Microsoft offers a number of tips on that very subject. Microsoft says that any Metro app developer must answer one question before starting to design a Metro program: "What is my app best at in its category?”

In an example app, Food with Friends, Microsoft talks about narrowing down the focus specifically to finding restaurants that a person and his or her friends can eat at that night. Microsoft says:

This “best-at” statement describes the reasons why user will want to buy this app and not a competitor’s in the same category. We will be referring back to it many times as we make design trade-offs and decide on which feature set and platform functionalities to use.

The rest of the blog goes over the design choices a Windows 8 Metro app maker must take to stick with that focus. That includes creating the best landing experience (the first page a user sees when they first open the app), designing each of the app's various sections, and layouts for the program.

The final step is creating how a user navigates through the app's own UI. Microsoft says they will go over more details about that aspect of the app design process in a future blog post.

Source: Windows 8 app developer blog | Image via Microsoft

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Hide all obvious functionality, use ****ty looking slliders, make it an unusable space hog at really high resolutions.

LaXu said,
Hide all obvious functionality, use ****ty looking slliders, make it an unusable space hog at really high resolutions.

No one is forcing you to use the Metro app when you ate at your desktop. Newegg has a Metro app but when you have a mouse and keyboard, the website is probably easier to navigate. However, you still might have the app installed if it has push notifications telling you about deals, or an item is in stock, or one if your orders has shipped because you aren't going to constantly sit at the webpage refreshing your account page.

Push notifications means Metro apps are useful even if you spend 100% of your time in the desktop because it reduces email clutter from websites.

oh gosh no. if you follow this stuff your app won't stand out. metro is a design language not a rigid set of numbers to follow.

neonspark said,
oh gosh no. if you follow this stuff your app won't stand out. metro is a design language not a rigid set of numbers to follow.

That's the whole point of Metro

billyea said,
I've seen applications try to "stand out" and it results in the fragmented Windows interface we see today.

Perhaps but the way I see it... all functionality is being replaced by looks. Metro is like assuming the end user is dumb and has to have such reduced controls. What happened to intuitive programs and games? man....

Arceles said,

Perhaps but the way I see it... all functionality is being replaced by looks. Metro is like assuming the end user is dumb and has to have such reduced controls. What happened to intuitive programs and games? man....


Intuitive is in the eye of the beholder, but I can tell you that having a similar interface for your music app as you do for your news app can go a long way towards being more intuitive for the end user. They'll immediately recognize that cutoff text means additional content and that the scrolling behaviour is the same, for example.

In addition, these are just tips. The designers who don't follow tips already know how to do it better, but publishing tips will increase the overall quality of UIs from those who would otherwise throw every button onto a dialog control and call it a day. I mean, Autodesk could throw all the suggestions out and make an AutoCAD app. They probably wouldn't (well, they made an app for iPhone so who knows).