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All posts tagged UI

The Greatest Unappreciated Strength of Windows 8

…Are the Metro New Windows UI Apps. Like genius they seem to be unappreciated in their lifetime.

Most people seem to be content to boot Windows 8 to old-school desktop and may never intentionally look at the New Desktop and Apps.

Windows 8 - Metro Desktop

In my last Windows 8 post I suggested that the 1 Critical Thing Wrong With Windows 8 was the act of treating consumers as square pegs to be hammered into round UX holes.

Facebook’s New UI

As Facebook introduces their new UI the sentiment seems to be one of wholehearted dislike for the slew of UI bugs larded into the browser:

Windows 8 - Facebook Bugs

Facebook as we know it today: Sample of UI bugs and comments added.

It occurred to me after using the new Facebook UI that it bothered me and inhibited my use. I found myself using the mobile app more and my laptop browser less.

Then I was in the Windows 8 New Desktop and I was spending the day almost exclusively using these Apps. I opened the Facebook Metro App and was greeted with a feeling of relief and contentment by the unblemished beauty and simplicity that greeted me:

Windows 8 - New Windows UI App

  • Toggle to hide sidebar menu
  • Large photos
  • A wide, unencumbered feed
  • Friend requests, Messages and Notifications all drop down below the toggle button on the left.

For those of you married to the idea of a right hand, subsidiary feed and your friends’ online statuses you are going to be disappointed but the miscomprehension of most users is that these Apps are intended to mirror desktop or browser apps. They aren’t.

New Windows UI is to App Design and functionality what the Danish Modern movement was to furniture.

The Warptest POV

It’s time for users who are struggling with the new Facebook UI to realize that they have an alternative in these Apps.

Facebook may have just given Windows 8 its biggest push, at least until we see what Microsoft has in store for us in the next release of Windows 8.x (expect big announcements from Microsoft BUILD this week).

So if this matches how you are feeling towards Facebook right now then you might want to ask a friend with Windows 8 if you can try this for yourself.

Even without touch your inner calm will be restored.

So take it for a spin and let me know what you think.

The New Windows UI

The Windows 8 revolution has begun …

I don’t believe that it’s empty hyperbole to describe the launch of Windows 8 as a revolution. This is the Operating System as it should be.

Windows has evolved and as a result the most important preparation you can make before upgrading to Windows 8 is to prepare yourself.

It doesn’t really matter what OS you have used until now …

Whether it was Windows XP, Vista or 7, a flavor of Linux or Apple’s Mac OS X, the UI / UX for Windows 8 is something different; as is the seamless integration of Microsoft’s Cloud Services.

Your Windows Login can be set (opt-in) to use your Microsoft Account (formerly your Live ID) as your login and this brings with it a holistic sync of these services with the relevant apps:

You will find your Hotmail / Outlook.com, Contacts, Calendar and Skydrive all sync’d and accessible and if like me you are a Windows Phone user then the experience is even sweeter. You don’t have to have a Microsoft Account to use Windows 8 but the truth is, that is the way to maximize your investment in the OS.

Windows 8 is a cloud integrated OS at its very core and with this you are called on to embrace Apps versus Desktop Apps and perhaps more controversially the disappearance of the Start Menu.

Apps versus Desktop Apps …

Apps are Metro UI in design and the desktop for these utilizes Live Tile technology. We got our first taste of this in Windows Phone to a degree; Live Tiles are large, boldly designed icons that may display dynamic information regarding App related content e.g. Mail’s Live Tile may display the number of new / unread emails waiting for you, People’s Live Tile shows you the latest messages from your Contacts in the different connected Social Networks:

The New Windows 8 UI Desktop

This means that your Desktop is now a source of as much Real Time information as you see fit.

Desktop Apps are the classical Windows styled programs that will display in the Desktop. In some cases the

TIP: Your best friend in a non-touch enabled device is the Windows Key:

Used by itself it will toggle between Metro Desktop and Classical Windows Desktop.

Used in conjunction with the X key on your keyboard you get the Main Menu.

Windows 8 Desktop

Alternatively for the early adopter types, the power move is to use the Charms Menu. Swipe down from the top right with the mouse (if touch enabled with your finger)

The Windows 8 Charms Menu

The Warptest Perspective …

  • Prepare yourself: expect some degree of ramp up time in getting used to Windows 8. Revolutionary can be a bit hard to cope with if your mouse hand keeps straying towards the missing Start Menu.
  • I will deep dive the Charms Menu in a later post. This is a power feature that deserves more detail; Search alone is multifaceted, killer app.
  • The Metro UI Desktop: be aware that you can easily remove Live Tiles (right click the Tile you don’t need and a menu will open at the bottom of the screen)
  • Live Tiles and Cognitive Dissonance. Too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing. So if you find it distracting or confusing to have too many Live Tiles dynamically refreshing information then thin the herd.
  • I’ll say it one more time. Windows 8 is revolutionary and adjusting your mindset about how you are used to doing things will make for a stress free transition.

One thing is certain, the revolution is waiting for you too. Are you going to join?

Google+ And The Menu Bar…

It’s a ubiquitous feature: no matter which product you find yourself using (if you are logged in) you see the black Menu Bar and if you look on the left, there’s Google+.

Google+ - Google Menu Bar - kludge

The Menu Bar has been controversial. Some love it, some hate it and some see it as the first major step in getting serious about UI/UX.

Google+ Latest Iteration

Over the last week users were (mostly) delighted to get a clean, fresh and well laid out new UI.

Google+ UI

The Good, The Bad and the Beautiful…

Google+ more of the same

The controversy is over the wasted real estate  or whitespace column left of the hangout column.. still how many blogs (mine included) are themed to use only a partial amount of the screen width?

More important to me is the Navigation Bar  on the far left of the screen .. in keeping with new UI there is a strong icon focus where the More icon is a pop-out menu, accessing other apps.

Warptest Predictions…

Most important this vertical Navigation Bar has just rendered the Menu Bar totally redundant! Once the idea of a vertical Navigation Bar is absorbed by the users I predict another design iteration where the Menu Bar is dropped altogether and all your Google Products display the vertical Bar instead.

Google+ - Vertical Menu - UX

No matter which Google product I’m using, I expect the Navigation Bar to be there and the Menu Bar to be gone in the next 6 months … remember you read it here first.