Inside Windows 7 phone design

Well I never thought I'd say this but; I've been really inspired by the Windows design team.

Yeah I said it. Windows, as in Microsoft Windows has taken a huge leap forward in it's design language. This article, on their blog, gives a good overview of the philosophy that drove the design of the new Windows 7 phone. If you've ever designed a UI or you've been tasked with creating a design guides, then I recommend you take 5 minutes to read it.

Hopefully this uncharacteristically intelligent approach to design finally marks a change in Microsoft product development.


Waitrose website redesign - a lesson for us all

Without warning or fanfare UK supermarket Waitrose launched their new website. Waitrose has always gone for the higher end of the food retail market and their previous site was a demonstration of that.The entire UX has to rival, if not beat the experience of shopping the store to justify it's exsistence. It's customers (not dissimilar to MORE TH>N's) are discerning and demanding. This means any slippage in the shopping experience can be costly for the brand.

It seems that on this occasion the online experience has let the side down. As per usual Twitter is one of the most visible places people have shown their discontent. I've personally never used the site to shop so my shallow browsing experience didn't flag up any issues. From a visual design point of view it seems to fit the brand, it's nothing mind blowing, but that wouldn't be befitting of Waitrose. The IA has had a really good sorting out and the front end build seems solid enough. So it's fair to say the majoriy of bugs lie in the commerce engine. If anyone should be shouldering the blame on this one, it's Waitrose technology partner.

In almost every complaint someone has mentioned the £10million price tag. I don't believe Waitrose have confirmed this price, but having worked inside a large organisation on e-commerce projects it doesn't blow me away. If it's true I'm quite sure the ten million isn't just the design work from Grand Union. It most likely covered research, IA, visual, build, setting up hosting environments, load balancing, backend integration and possibly build or development of a CMS. Customers and designer behave like this is an outrageous amount of money, but when you consider how many millions runs through the site and how much it saves in shop operation costs, it really isn't that much.

I hadn't intended this to be a defensive of the new Waitrose site, but it looks like they are doing all the right things. They have set up a forum for customers, they are being proactive on Twitter and they are responding to negative Facebook posts.

What can we learn from this?
  1. Lead up to major overhauls to avoid the 'shock' factor
  2. Keep the public informed of improvement plans and hope they come back
  3. Share the process, let people see the work done
  4. Don't let budgets get out and blur the issues
  5. Make sure your online brand is in line with offline brand.

Article on Webologist | Article on EConsultancy


Coke won't tell you!

I'm a big fan of the Coke brand, but frankly I find this disturbing. What could the brand strategists possibly have been thinking?! Coke being consumed by people all over the world and now we are being told it contains something secret. Well that is not exactly comforting.


Starbucks brand rolls out

When the design community started to rabbit on about the updates being made to Starbucks' logo. I thought, like many people, who cares?! The change seemed so minor that it was hardly worth registering. The icon had a small amount of tidying up, nothing to write home about. The name has been dropped, which is a bold move. But hardly ground breaking for a brand of it's scale.

As with most brand design projects it seems that the logo is just a piece of the whole puzzle. Now we are starting to see the new design language being rolled out, it's clear the Starbucks brand team has a bigger plan at work.

More details and opinion on the mighty Under Consideration
Official launch clip on the Starbucks site


Is your campaign integrated?

Having trouble creating an integrated campaign? Here is a guide I made to get you started.

It really is that simple.


Print that looks like web pt1

This double page ad was in Metro a few weeks back. It's a fairly simple travel & tourism proposition, but strangely the creative has been made to look like a web page.

At the risk of showing my advertising ignorance, I find it hard to see the logic in this. Is the Canadian tourist board trying to make us think it's 'web savvy'? Is it attempting to attract the 'Facebook generation'? - bit patronising if that's the case.
 The ad is complete with mock embedded video
Media carosels
It even has share links to Twitter and Facebook. Very odd.


Redesigning iTunes

When Apple bought SoundJam in 1999 and it turned it into iTunes, it was a small but innovative piece of software for converting, sorting and playing a mind blowing one thousand songs. Today it's not so small, not so innovative and 1,000 songs is but a sniff of the average digital music collection. It's fair to say that with Apple's current focus on development for handheld devices iTunes has become the gateway to its product experience, a real cornerstone in it's business.

With all this in mind it amazes me that Apple has never taken on the task of redesigning the iTunes UX from scratch. It's continually adding new features and little improvements, but all of it is on a very old structure. So one night I was feeling a bit bored (and supremely arrogant) and I started to wonder how I would redesign iTunes.

1. Cloud Based Service
I guess it's no secret Apple has been sniffing around this change for a while. Looking at Spotify it seems a no brainer to move away from files clogging up your hard drive and allow users to access their music from anywhere.

2. iOS Design Lead
It's clear the software lead is now coming from Apple's devices, so I've used the iPhone and iPad version as a lead for the visual design

3. Tabs for Media
The current UI tries to swtich between music, films, books, tv shows and apps whilst applying the same approach. I've segregated the different media with tabs to allow each one it's own space and navigation.

4. Tabs for Devices
Instead of dropping devices in to the left hand list with Media types and Playlists. I've created a flexible space for them to be added and removed more gracefully.

5. Playback Controls Grouped
All of the playback tools are now together at the top of the application, instead of being scattered around the edges.

6. Cleaner Filters
In it's current version (10.1.2) there is no less than 39 different ways to sort music. I've stripped this back, leaving only the neccessary. But giving the option for adding a couple more if the user specifies.

7. Proper Sharing, No More Ping
Sorry Apple but Ping is Poo. There is no need to try and build a singular social network when you can utilise Facebook and Twitter. My design allows you to share songs, albums or playlists with comments.

8. Better Exploring/Recommendations
Within every track you can access Genius to serve up recommendations for similar material.

Overall I've removed, what I felt was, all the superfluous features including visualiser, sidebar, coverflow and a few others. I've tried to design within what I understand of Apple's philosophy. I'm sure I've overlooked something in there, but it shows what can be achieved in one night.

You can take a closer look at my design on my Flickr stream.


I am MORE TH>N Freeman

This new little project has gone live this week.

It's a simple idea; for every tweet MORE TH>N will donate £2 to the Have A Heart Appeal. Each person who hits the tweet button will have there Twitter avatar added to the giant mosaic.

The idea was born out of watching the twitter responses to the TV ads. The thing that got played back to us over and over again was the pay off line from the scripts "I'm MORE TH>N Freeman", so I thought any Twitter activity should reflect that. It's not perfect, but the whole thing was turned around in just over a week, so please forgive any roughness around the edges.

The aim is raise £20,000 just using Twitter. All it costs you is a tweet and all the money goes towards a fantastically worthy cause. So go ahead and HIT THAT TWEET BUTTON.