Design Process, Inspiration, and User Experience

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Jan 11

What if Windows Phone F***ed a Slate? – Part 1



This year at the Consumer Electronics Show over 80 new tablet devices were announced.  I was excited to see some different UI explorations with the BlackBerry Playbook and the Android Honeycomb.  However, I was hoping to see some elaboration on what a “tile based” windows 7 tablet OS would look like.

Plenty of people are murmuring about this (including us)…so here at Clarity we jumped the gun a bit and envisioned what a Metro themed tablet would look like.  And I’d like to share some of the thinking we came up with.

Initial Thoughts

After some interweb searching it seemed that most of the screen resolutions were hovering around 1360×768, which is a typical widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio.  Working with such a wide layout I decided to explore the horizontal use case as it seemed to be most natural.

The first thing I tried was dividing the 1360px width by the golden ratio which left me with 520px on the left and 840 on the right.  As I stared at the 520×768 section on the left it occurred to me that the WP7 resolution is roughly the same size (480×800).

After a little hesitation I decided to jam the WP7 Home Screen layout in there.  Which looked something like this…

This doesn’t look as dumb as I thought it would.  Using the live tiles as the main navigation seemed to work fairly well.  With the remainder of space I took a stab at something that would be more useful than the other tablet platforms out there.

One gripe I have about the iPad is that there isn’t a way for me to get “glance-view” information.  I find it cumbersome to have to open every application individually to get the data I want.

From an interaction standpoint, WP7 does a really good job at this.  WP7 takes a lot of information that is normally separated by apps and websites and puts it in one logical place.  This is most obvious example being the “People Hub” which aggregates social activity from your contact list.

With my interaction hat on, I thought it would be clever if the remaining space was dedicated to showing dynamic content.  Panorama controls happen to be really good at bubbling up dynamic content that would otherwise be difficult or cumbersome to find.

With that in mind, it’s not a far stretch to envision how the home screen could bubble up content from your installed applications.  For example, the activity stream from your people hub, trending tweets, or even your latest unread emails or outlook items could end up on your home screen at glance-view.

Cool, I guess…what would it really look like?

Enough putzing around with wireframes, let’s see what a skin would look like.  After spending some time in Photoshop, this is what I came up with.

As I mentioned above, I think the home screen could serve as a brilliant dashboard that aggregates information from your installed applications.  Seeing all this glance view data without actually opening any applications is the type of thing that makes me happy.

Grouping applications….

One thing I really like about  iOS is the ability to group applications.  As the app store / marketplace grows my home screens are becoming pretty bloated.  I think the “people” tile does a great job of visually differentiating itself from the other tiles…so if we borrow that concept and apply it to apps we get something like this.

Assuming we have drag-and-drop functionality to group applications. A simple swipe or tap and hold gesture could expand the group to look like this.

Summary

Just to be clear, this post is just a dump of some brainstorm sessions we’ve had internally and is not meant to be anything more than an envisioning exercise.

In my next post Im going to move away from the OS and give an example of what an application might look like.

I appreciate all feedback and I would love to hear from other folks that have been thinking about this.

Cheers -

Erik Klimczak  | eklimczak@claritycon.com |twitter.com/eklimcz

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