Windows Phone 7 interface analyzed

In building the new Windows Phone 7 Series mobile operating system Microsoft started from scratch to create a user interface which was both easy to use and visually appealing. Luke Wroblewski, the chief design architect at Yahoo!, has now done an analysis of how the interface utilises tease and transition animations to provide a better and more intuitive user experience.

LiveSide point to a post on Wroblewski's personal blog, which includes a video highlighting how the implementation of a Natural User Interface (NUI) uses content as interface controls - showing people that bits are interactive by using using "teasing" techniques. These teases encourage users to explore and touch things in an intuitive way, in Windows Phone 7 specifically by hinting at more or additional content related to the current view.

As the video points out, there is a tease on the phone's home/lock screen and also on most of the application screens where truncation - of titles and content - can persuade people to explore more of the application. Animated transitions show users that elements are active and can be interacted with, as well as giving feedback to the user based on certain actions. Take a look at the Wroblewski's blog and the video to get a better idea.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Google acquires reMail, just to kill it

Next Story

School uses laptop webcams to spy on students

55 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Looks promising. I like the fact it's not just another clone of an existing OS. I have an iPhone currently but the fact this is quite different means that when I come to buying my next phone there will be more in the way of genuine choice. It would have been a shame if they had released a similar OS and relied on hardware to be a deciding factor but thankfully they havent. I think the Xbox integration in particular could give them a real upper hand on the competition if they execute it right.

All in all good for consumers. There does seem to be some work to go but, menu transitions seemed on the slow side for instance but its a good start.

I agree completely with the article, I was saying the same about the 'tease' visual cues. Instead of having a 'next' button, or a horizontal scrollbar, or menus to move through several different screens, the hubs are a single panorama view and they appear in screen showing the truncated part of the next page, so you know there is more content and you can pan to them without using the old fashioned GUI elements mentioned above. Psychologically, it feels like the interface is less static and less constrained, like it is bigger than the device itself. It is thinking out of the box in a literal sense. Bigger text and live tiles I think they are a good idea considering that a lot of people uses the phone a lot WHILE DRIVING. Since this is inevitable, I think it is better a clearer text so they can get their info faster and put their attention back to driving. There is no more scrolling through cryptic icons anymore, in and out of applications... I really think that the change of paradigm they did here in terms of a touch GUI is very important and truly innovative, and makes the iPhone and Android look just like a Palm Pilot with color and fancy animations.

Charles Keledjian said,
I agree completely with the article, I was saying the same about the 'tease' visual cues. Instead of having a 'next' button, or a horizontal scrollbar, or menus to move through several different screens, the hubs are a single panorama view and they appear in screen showing the truncated part of the next page, so you know there is more content and you can pan to them without using the old fashioned GUI elements mentioned above. Psychologically, it feels like the interface is less static and less constrained, like it is bigger than the device itself. It is thinking out of the box in a literal sense. Bigger text and live tiles I think they are a good idea considering that a lot of people uses the phone a lot WHILE DRIVING. Since this is inevitable, I think it is better a clearer text so they can get their info faster and put their attention back to driving. There is no more scrolling through cryptic icons anymore, in and out of applications... I really think that the change of paradigm they did here in terms of a touch GUI is very important and truly innovative, and makes the iPhone and Android look just like a Palm Pilot with color and fancy animations.

+1

Charles Keledjian said,
I agree completely with the article, I was saying the same about the 'tease' visual cues. Instead of having a 'next' button, or a horizontal scrollbar, or menus to move through several different screens, the hubs are a single panorama view and they appear in screen showing the truncated part of the next page, so you know there is more content and you can pan to them without using the old fashioned GUI elements mentioned above. Psychologically, it feels like the interface is less static and less constrained, like it is bigger than the device itself. It is thinking out of the box in a literal sense. Bigger text and live tiles I think they are a good idea considering that a lot of people uses the phone a lot WHILE DRIVING. Since this is inevitable, I think it is better a clearer text so they can get their info faster and put their attention back to driving. There is no more scrolling through cryptic icons anymore, in and out of applications... I really think that the change of paradigm they did here in terms of a touch GUI is very important and truly innovative, and makes the iPhone and Android look just like a Palm Pilot with color and fancy animations.

+1

Nice thoughtful reply.

I'm going to whole heartedly agree here. I've been using the Zune HD for about a couple months now. And the tiles (or pins) are amazing. They're easy to navigate.

Icons in the iPhone are old. They all look the same, and it's not very fluid.

Most people who have used the Zune HD can say that the UI is very responsive, and it's just an experience in itself. I believe that once people start using WM7 they'll notice a big difference between an interactive and static UI.

you can shift the boxes in the winphone around, so you can move the ugly ones out of sight below, and move the pretty ones to the top.


*FACE PALM*
The interface is 5 years too old. Even the 1st Gen iPhone is more intuitive. Microsoft really needs to hire people with actual HCI experience.

TonyLock said,
*FACE PALM*
The interface is 5 years too old. Even the 1st Gen iPhone is more intuitive. Microsoft really needs to hire people with actual HCI experience.
Hi-larious. It's not "5 years too old", this UI type barely existed 5 years ago. It's developed through Media Center, thru the Zune and Xbox to this. It's amazing you can talk about specifics of relative intuitiveness and HCI with something you've never used. Doesn't the fact it's on several platforms suggest to you at all that it might be worth something? Bad products don't last.

You may not like the style on first look, but have you actually tried it?

Edited by Kirkburn, Feb 19 2010, 4:04am :

TonyLock said,
*FACE PALM*
The interface is 5 years too old. Even the 1st Gen iPhone is more intuitive. Microsoft really needs to hire people with actual HCI experience.

huh?? i dont remember seeing anything like that from 5 years ago?

It looks better than the iPhone... god that has an awful ui... I actually want one of these, but I think my next phone will have Android on it... can't be bothered with others. But really... I love how slick all of Microsoft's UI's have been getting all beginning with the Zune software. The UI makes everything really amazing and this is no different.

What if you don't want facebook on your phone. What if you're cheap like me and you don't want to purchase a dataplan? - but you still want a wm phone because you want to sync word documents, presentations, excel, and outlook stuff to your phone. Are you S-O-L?

bguy_1986 said,
What if you don't want facebook on your phone. What if you're cheap like me and you don't want to purchase a dataplan? - but you still want a wm phone because you want to sync word documents, presentations, excel, and outlook stuff to your phone. Are you S-O-L?

Then don't use Facebook???

bguy_1986 said,
What if you don't want facebook on your phone. What if you're cheap like me and you don't want to purchase a dataplan? - but you still want a wm phone because you want to sync word documents, presentations, excel, and outlook stuff to your phone. Are you S-O-L?

No carrier is going to sell you a subsidized smartphone without a data plan. But, hey, you can pay the full price and buy it unlocked and use it without a data plan. Make sense to you?
I am just wondering what other ridiculous arguments I am going to hear...

Edited by zagor, Feb 18 2010, 11:16pm :

bguy_1986 said,
What if you don't want facebook on your phone. What if you're cheap like me and you don't want to purchase a dataplan? - but you still want a wm phone because you want to sync word documents, presentations, excel, and outlook stuff to your phone. Are you S-O-L?

Sounds like a USB flash drive or netbook maybe better for you ?

bguy_1986 said,
What if you don't want facebook on your phone. What if you're cheap like me and you don't want to purchase a dataplan? - but you still want a wm phone because you want to sync word documents, presentations, excel, and outlook stuff to your phone. Are you S-O-L?

Then this seriously isn't for you. This is a premium, high end device experience, with massive connectivity From what you're describing, you don't seemingly want a smartphone...and a smartphone of any form, shape or description should always come with a dataplan. You may however want to consider a Windows Phone Classic solution (Coexisting Windows Mobile 6.5.x base), which is going to continue to offer the boring, no frills Windows Phone, with Office capability.

Digitalx said,

Sounds like a USB flash drive or netbook maybe better for you ?

I agree except for the fact that you can't fit a netbook in your pocket. A netbook would be cheaper.

in my opinion its very pretty..alot better than the IPHONE..
but i cant say anything before i use it for about a week.. because yes the hub system will take time to remember and all..

i hope they make it more customizable..

The animations are nice, but certain things take much longer to do just because of them. Opening apps seems to take longer than needed because it has to do its exit/enter animations. Jumping letters takes much much longer compared to iPhone (scrollbar) because you have to open an interface and press a letter. Don't get me wrong its pretty and all that, but it seems very inefficient when it comes to productivity.

And there is lots of wasted space like Spacer said, the photos app is the most obvious, no landscape mode? no zoom? Whats going on there?

Xero said,
The animations are nice, but certain things take much longer to do just because of them. Opening apps seems to take longer than needed because it has to do its exit/enter animations. Jumping letters takes much much longer compared to iPhone (scrollbar) because you have to open an interface and press a letter. Don't get me wrong its pretty and all that, but it seems very inefficient when it comes to productivity.

And there is lots of wasted space like Spacer said, the photos app is the most obvious, no landscape mode? no zoom? Whats going on there?

I agree on the wasted space issue but they've demonstrated the landscape mode and zoom in the photos app/section.

natural user interaction or whatever rubbish they wish to call it doesn't change the fact that firstly, it's really ugly - they actually managed to screw up the nice zuneHD UI like they were blindfolded when implementing it. Secondly, they're wasting so much screen real estate in this it's pretty much a joke in itself.

The Zune HD UI never existed. It was called the Metro UI. It is in Windows Media Center for Windows 7, Xbox 360, Zune HD, and now Windows Phone 7 Series. It is used like a salt shaker, they put a hint in every UI they make. Windows 8 will most likely feature the Metro UI.

FYI, many people wanted color when they saw what Metro UI looked like on the Zune HD. It was black and white. But you can change colors on the Metro UI on 7 Series to fit the phone, in this case, if the phone you run 7 Series on has a WVGA screen, then white backgrounds are preferred, if the screen is OLED, the background is black. They try to fit the phone and you.

Electric Jolt said,
The Zune HD UI never existed. It was called the Metro UI. It is in Windows Media Center for Windows 7, Xbox 360, Zune HD, and now Windows Phone 7 Series. It is used like a salt shaker, they put a hint in every UI they make. Windows 8 will most likely feature the Metro UI.

FYI, many people wanted color when they saw what Metro UI looked like on the Zune HD. It was black and white. But you can change colors on the Metro UI on 7 Series to fit the phone, in this case, if the phone you run 7 Series on has a WVGA screen, then white backgrounds are preferred, if the screen is OLED, the background is black. They try to fit the phone and you.

Well they've made a sure mess of it with this that's for sure as I mentioned previously in other comments, the UI has been well done with its purposes up till now. It's quite frankly standing out that it is not a good UI at all for the management or use of a phone. They ramble on about content being rich and all that mumbo apple "amazing" terms how can that be so when looking at present home screen or the 'Peoples' list for example at any given time your wasting battery powering 15-20% give or take blank screen that for all intent purposes microsoft has designed not to use - why ?

Digitalx said,
when looking at present home screen or the 'Peoples' list for example at any given time your wasting battery powering 15-20% give or take blank screen that for all intent purposes microsoft has designed not to use - why ?
It's the start menu, not the lock screen. If you're looking at the start menu, yes - it does stuff. If you're interacting with the phone, I don't think it's surprising for it to be using CPU to show you stuff. I would assume it's fairly heavily optimized anyway.

Edited by Kirkburn, Feb 19 2010, 4:54am :

Looks better every time I see it!

I think that once this gets some publicity and the 'trendsetters' start waling around with WP7s it'll be very popular!

Definately want to get one asap!

Ambroos said,
Looks better every time I see it!

I think that once this gets some publicity and the 'trendsetters' start waling around with WP7s it'll be very popular!

Definately want to get one asap!

+1 I totally agree with everything you said. I like it more and more everytime I see a video of it or something new. I think this will really pick up once we get some hardware out there. It really depends on the hardware it's on and how it performs. If it's sluggish than it won't go too well or if people don't like the look or feel of the hardware it's on, same thing...

It should be something to actually challenge the iPhone. It's my opinion that the Android still isn't that great and need some work to try to get up on that iPhone level. It's good but just not good enough yet (only my opinion).

dogmai said,

+1 I totally agree with everything you said. I like it more and more everytime I see a video of it or something new. I think this will really pick up once we get some hardware out there. It really depends on the hardware it's on and how it performs. If it's sluggish than it won't go too well or if people don't like the look or feel of the hardware it's on, same thing...

It should be something to actually challenge the iPhone. It's my opinion that the Android still isn't that great and need some work to try to get up on that iPhone level. It's good but just not good enough yet (only my opinion).


iPhone users need to leave. What, Microsoft is about to crush that Compact they call the iPhone? Please, there is a beginning and an ending to everything, and that also goes for all these negative opinions.

jesseinsf said,

iPhone users need to leave. What, Microsoft is about to crush that Compact they call the iPhone? Please, there is a beginning and an ending to everything, and that also goes for all these negative opinions.

And what negative opinions are you referring to? I am an iPhone owner and can't wait for some devices with WP7 so I can't get rid of this thing. There just isn't anything out there that competes or does what the iPhone does with ease and on such a broad scope.

dogmai said,

And what negative opinions are you referring to? I am an iPhone owner and can't wait for some devices with WP7 so I can't get rid of this thing. There just isn't anything out there that competes or does what the iPhone does with ease and on such a broad scope.

Exactly. I have an iPhone 3G and I cannot wait until a Windows Phone that will be exciting to use as much as my iPhone.