Windows 10 Interface Designers Take a Page From City Planners
Microsoft's designers act a little like city planners for a user interface revamp that the company hopes goes the distance.Windows 10 is an ambitious operating system, and for inspiration on how to translate its many capabilities to useful, visually engaging features for users on a multitude of device types, the company turned to the layout of urban areas. "Our design approach is evolving from our rich history in transportation graphics and the International Typographic Style," Albert Shum, design lead at Microsoft's Operating Systems group, wrote in a lengthy blog post exploring Windows 10's attention to detail. "Today we're moving toward an approach that is somewhat like designing a city." A top priority is to create a consistent look and feel and a navigable environment that still allows for the occasional flashes of creativity, hallmarks of many cities. "We're creating a foundation, or a common grid, that maintains the order and standards that make a city work, yet also has flexibility that enables expression and a distinct sense of place," said Shum. Windows 10 will run on a wide range of devices, from smartphones to an 84-inch wall-mounted teleconferencing and whiteboard system. To maintain those attributes across a variety of screen sizes, Shum's team is using adaptive user experience (UX) techniques that are more welcoming to users coming from other platforms. "With our universal apps and adaptive UX, we have an approach to design that lets developers build one app, but still tailor the UX to each device when it makes sense," Shum wrote.
"We can use a hamburger [Menu] icon without pivots on a PC version of the app for better keyboard and mouse navigation and then customize the same app to have pivots with swipe control for better one-hand use on mobile," he continued. "We're making it possible for an app to have both hamburger and pivot controls—but to display the right control at the right time on the right device."