Playing with Panoramas on Windows Phone 7

As an unrepentant Apple-head, I approached my assignment to build a Windows Phone 7 with an open mind. I knew there was a lot of guidelines and behavior I didn’t know, but I was surprised to find out about how many concepts within the platform actually make great sense…

…the good thing about those “sensible WP7 concepts” is that there’s only three of them:

  • Panorama: magazine-inspired layout that extends beyond the confines of a single screenful. Panoramas generally look gorgeous and they smartly hint the user to the content extending beyond the sides of the screen. I bet a surprising number of apps can be solved completely inside a single panorama.
  • Back Button Stack: Windows Phone 7 keeps track of your navigation history even across apps: If you email an article from and return to the browser to read, you can retrace your steps through these apps and sites regardless of the fact that Internet Explorer was visited twice. This is very different from iPhone, where launching Safari will always show the very last page you saw. if you worship Apps above all else, this will be weird, but WP7’s designers clearly want us to think of the phone as a unified experience. Experience first, apps second. I suspect after an initial learning period, this behavior will become second nature to users, and they’ll never want to switch back.
  • Metro Design: a sparse gridded design permeates Windows Phone 7. Everything seems to hang off of the typography, with very pleasing results. Superfluous widgets or chrome are simply not welcome. I tend to prefer a bit more density in my screens, but it’s hard to argue that this design breathes easier than iOS – and it’s definitely more beautiful than Android!

These wireframes show the decision-management app i helped create for WP7: