Skip to main content

About this book

Designing for Windows 8 is a fast-paced, 150-page primer on the key design concepts you need to create successful Windows 8 apps. This book will help you design a user interface that is both delightful and effective, feels ‘right’ to your users, and encapsulates a great Windows 8 experience.

In this book, you will:

Meet the building blocks of solid Windows 8 UI design in a well-designed sample app. Learn how to incorporate key design elements into your apps, such as the app bar, charms and subtle animations from the animation library. Find out how to deliver the core experience that your users expect from Windows 8. Learn how to make your app stand out from thousands of others in the Windows Store.

It’s now time to create the next generation of Windows applications. Arm yourself with design tactics and join in on this wonderful opportunity!

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Microsoft Design Style Inspirations

In order to truly understand something, it is often important to understand where it originated. This is especially true of design-related topics. Almost everything designed today has roots somewhere in the past. The Microsoft Design Style is no exception. There are three major design influences that contributed to the formation of this design language: Bauhaus (and the related Modern Design Movement), International Typographic Style (also known as Swiss Design Style), and cinematography (and the related discipline motion design). Each of these had an impact on the creation of the design language that has been used in products such as Zune, Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and now Windows 8.
Brent Schooley

Chapter 2. Microsoft Design Style Principles

The guiding force behind all successful Windows 8 application designs is what is known collectively as the Microsoft Design Style Principles. These five principles are the foundation on which a successful app should be built. The Microsoft Design Style Principles reinforce the design fundamentals presented in Chapter 1 and introduce some new concepts in addition. While the principles may seem similar to marketing phrases, they are absolutely essential both to understand and incorporate into your app design. The Microsoft Design Style Principles are the following:
Show pride in craftsmanship.
Be fast and fluid.
Be authentically digital.
Do more with less.
Win as one.
Brent Schooley

Chapter 3. Design Strategies for Windows 8

Designing applications for any platform requires proper planning and strategies. Windows 8 is no exception. In fact, given the increased importance of focused application design, I would argue that it is even more important for Windows 8 app design than before. In this chapter, I will outline some key planning techniques and strategies that will enable you to design an application that meets the needs of your users, no matter what type of application you are building. I’ll begin with some strategic planning tips that will help you design a very focused app. I’ll then move on to some techniques that will help define the user interface of your application. These include not only the static look of the application but also the animations and user interactions. Most of these techniques will revolve around low-fidelity prototyping, but I will also discuss tools that are available for creating high-fidelity mock-ups after preliminaries have been established. The specific strategies I’ll be discussing are
  • Defining the app’s mission through a “best at” statement
  • Brainstorming and refining application scenarios
  • Choosing a navigation and content strategy
  • Prototyping
Brent Schooley

Chapter 4. Basic Building Blocks of Windows 8 Design

In the first three chapters of this book, you were introduced to the fundamentals of the Microsoft design language and explored some design strategies to help guide your design process. At this point, we’re ready to get down to some nuts and bolts of Windows 8 application design. The various controls available in WinRT provide the building blocks we will use to create our applications. Understanding the types of controls that should be used in specific situations and the process involved in designing them are essential to good application design. As discussed in the “show pride in craftsmanship” principle (see Chapter 2), choosing the right tool for the right job is a major key to success.
Brent Schooley

Chapter 5. Windows 8 Platform Considerations

The Windows 8 platform is very versatile. It offers users the ability to employ touch, keyboard and mouse, and ink for input. The types of machines it runs on range from tablets to laptops to traditional desktops. Apps can run in portrait or landscape orientations across a range of screen sizes and resolutions. The platform even offers a way for two applications to run simultaneously, by snapping one application to the right or left side of the screen. While this versatility is a bonanza for users, when designing apps, it does require that we consider the platform more closely than we might with other operating systems. Therefore, we will concentrate on the following topics in this chapter:
  • Designing for touch
  • Form factor and layout
Brent Schooley

Chapter 6. Bringing Existing Apps to Windows 8

Since Windows 8 was announced, I have been studying it, blogging about it, and giving presentations related to it. Throughout this process, there has been one question that I get asked repeatedly: “Windows 8 looks great … but how do I bring my existing application to it?” This is a perfectly valid question. Not every application for Windows 8 is a brand-new application. Many applications released on Windows 8 already exist on one or more other platforms. In almost all of these cases, the application in question will need to undergo a bit of a transformation before landing in the Windows Store. In a process Microsoft calls “reimagining,” apps must shed the UI patterns (or lack thereof, in some cases) of their current platform in order to fit into the Windows 8 ecosystem. In this chapter, I will explain the process involved in transforming a traditional Windows desktop application into a Windows Store application. I will then discuss a few strategies you can employ to bring tablet applications from other platforms onto Windows 8. In many ways, this chapter is a culmination of everything you have learned so far in this book. For each stage of the transformation, I will refer to the underlying reasons for each change. Many things will relate back to the design principles you learned in Chapter 2.
Brent Schooley


Additional information

Premium Partner

    Image Credits