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Windows UX Design Principles

Reduce concepts to increase confidence

  • Have you introduced a new concept? Why? Is it necessary?
  • Can you get rid of unneeded concepts?
  • Are you making meaningful distinctions?
  • Does the UX continue the same concept?

Small things matter, good and bad

  • What are the important "small things" seen often or by many?
  • What small problems are you solving?
  • Do less better.
  • Don't cut the small things in your experiences.
  • Plan for the thoughtful details.
  • Fix the small bugs.

Be great at "look" and "do"

  • What is your UX great at? Does its look reflect what it is great at?
  • Does the first thing users see reflect what the UX is great at?
  • Does the UX match expectations?
  • Is it obvious what users can do?
  • Are you providing only the necessary steps?

Solve distractions, not discoverability

  • Reduce distractions.
  • Don't let features compete with themselves.
  • Commit to new functionality.
  • These are not solutions to poor discoverability:
    • Pinning an icon in the Start menu.
    • Putting an icon on the desktop.
    • Putting an icon in the notification area.
    • Using a notification.
    • Having a first run experience.
    • Having a tour.

UX before knobs and questions

  • Turn down the volume of questions.
  • Ask once.
  • Don't require configuration to get value.
  • Was the question asked already?
  • Look for opportunities to consolidate.

Personalization, not customization

  • Does the feature allow users to express an element of themselves?
  • Have you made the distinction between personalization and customization?
  • Does the personalization have to be a new feature, or can it make use of existing features and information (such as the user's location, background picture, or tile)?

Value the life cycle of the experience

  • Consider the user experience at all stages:
    • Installation and creation.
    • First use and customization.
    • Regular use.
    • Management and maintenance.
    • Uninstall or upgrade.
  • Walk through the experience as if it has been used for 12 months. Does it have:
    • Realistic content.
    • Realistic volume.

Time matters, so build for people on the go

  • All UX principles apply equally at 12-inch and 20-inch screen sizes.
  • Be interruptible.
  • Account for starting and stopping (fast return, and do not get in the way of other UX).
  • Account for getting and losing connectivity.
  • Performance is the universal UX killer.

Other resources

To learn more about how these principles were used in the Windows 7 design process, see: