Built-in Windows 8.1 apps have ‘compelling app experiences’ thanks to evolving design language


Windows 8.1 search app

According to Microsoft, creating a Windows Store app that’s built upon Microsoft’s evolving design language and by leveraging personality, patterns, principles, and platform, one can create an app that is compelling. Microsoft is also touting several of the built-in apps in Windows 8.1 as having a compelling app experience.

“Great design helps your Windows Store apps stand out from the crowd. Improvements to the Windows platform in 8.1 Preview, such as an expanded common controls set with greater design flexibility, allow Windows Store apps to achieve richer designs than ever before,” Microsoft stated in an official blog post.

The first aspect is personality. Microsoft believes that apps should be visual and interactive and not boring. “There is a misconception that the Microsoft visual language consists only of uniform rectangles in a grid. Yes, this is one way to compose your user interface but not the only one. Windows experiences are structured, clean, and have a clear information hierarchy, but they’re not boring,” Microsoft explains. In essence, Windows 8.1 embodies the “personality” aspect of a compelling app because the built-in search results utilize a collage of images using an accent color to make information presented much more visually pleasing. Typography is also important, along with vibrant colors and animations.

The second aspect of a compelling app is patterns. Microsoft has added additions to Windows 8.1, providing more design flexibility and support for multiple window sizes and orientations. “In Windows 8.1, there is a common Hub Control (WinJS and XAML) that supports this pattern with many built-in features, such as the ability to call out hero content, common experience with mouse, touch and keyboard, and responsive performance,” Microsoft explains. The pattern Microsoft is referring to is the group of heterogeneous content, which allows for a consistent way to navigate across sections and even allow you to dig deeper into a section.

Windows 8.1 mail app

Patterns are leveraged in the built-in Mail app on Windows 8.1. The app features support for both horizontal and vertical grids, cell-spanning grids, and drag-and-drop. “Text editing in Windows 8.1 Preview benefits from more intuitive selection including the ability to easily select entire words and fine cursor placement with touch,” Microsoft explains.

The Navigation Bar, as seen in the Windows Store app in Windows 8.1 Preview, is a specialized bar that contains navigation commands and is opened by simply swiping up from the bottom or from the top. There is a consistent and global navigation across the app. You can even show links or different levels of hierarchy. This is Microsoft’s example of utilizing patterns to create a compelling app.

The third aspect of a compelling app is principles. A developer must take pride in craftsmanship, create an app that is fast and fluid, authentically digital, allows one to do more with less, and create an app that is optimized for the overall experience. “They’re used by the Windows engineering team to create the beautiful experiences in Windows 8 and 8.1. We highly encourage Windows app builders to adopt our principles or build upon them to guide you towards achieving that great app,” Microsoft adds.

The final aspect of a compelling app is platform. Microsoft recommends that the developer take advantage of the Windows platform and all that it has to offer to create a compelling app. “This is because so much of the look and feel of your app comes down to the fundamental behaviors and characteristics of the platform itself. Examples include all the details of how users can select and edit text, the way touch panning sticks to your finger, and how users can navigate around using touch, mouse, and keyboard.”

So what are you waiting for? Start developing compelling apps on Windows 8.1!