CTP installation experience

by on April 30, 2007
in design

Here’s an interesting write up of a beta user upgrading from Beta 2 to the recent CTP build, it’s definitely worth the read, check it out.

While I really appreciate the honest feedback about the upgrade as well as the compliments regarding the UI, I would also like to hear some constructive feedback about what you’d like to see improved in a next version.

Be specific about areas in the UI you’d like to see improved, or made more useful. I’ll make sure all comments get to the team.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 3 of 11

by on April 30, 2007
in design

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 3
Prototype 3

Here we started playing with the interaction (a couple weeks later…) and working the information architecture to address navigation and scope.

I still believe interaction such as this would have tested successfully, although it’s not an interaction model that Microsoft has traditionally employed.

A little homework…

by on April 27, 2007
in design

Something that might be worthwhile thinking about…

How many hard drives (traditional or flash based) do you have in your house?

I’m going to go home tonight and count and then post the results this weekend.
It would be really interesting if some of you design folks out there would do this as well.

You might be amazed/surprised.

Additionally how much total storage capacity would you estimate is in your home? (i.e. – add it up.)

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 2 of 11

by on April 23, 2007
in design

Here’s round two which was about a week or two later (still March 2005.)

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 2
Prototype 2

Additionally, there has been some minor confusion about the fidelity of these designs so let me address any confusion.

Early in the discovery phase of creating anything you have to start with something like one of the following:
– sketch
– foundation
– blueprint
– underpainting
– groundwork
– schematic
– diagram

Early in the discovery phase of a product as large as Windows Home Server, nothing is high-fidelity, nothing is well defined (yet), and there is little agreement amongst the team members of what to build and how to build it.

This is where low fidelity prototyping is most valuable, here’s why:
– You can do it rapidly
РDoing so generates great ideas which can lead to new innovative design solutions
– Maintaining low-fidelity work and making updates is fast and easy

The only risk is to make sure you communicate clearly that you are producing low-fidelity work.
It can be useful to produce a high-fidelity example to juxtapose with the prototypes for buy-in.
You must make it clear that this is not high-fidelity design being produced (part of the reason these articles aren’t categorized under visual design… yet.)

Conversely *High-fidelity prototypes:
– Take more effort/resources to create
– Take more effort/resources to maintain
– Because they require more effort, they induce more commitment
– There is an expectation that high-fidelity prototypes reflect the plan of record

There is nothing wrong with throwaway low-fidelity rapid execution design work. In fact product/experience designers would be wise to work collaboratively and nurture and support it iterating high-fidelity during discovery will just burn people out.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 1 of 11

by on April 20, 2007
in design

The very first digital iteration of the Windows Home Server Console.

As promised this kicks off an eleven part series where I will sequentially disclose all of the relevant prototype iterations of the Windows Home Server Console which have lead us to Visual Freeze/RTM.

Windows Home Server Console Prototype 1
Prototype 1

This is a very first (digital) draft which was created before many of our requirements were in any way finalized.

The concept of a Network Overview was a core concept throughout much of our discovery phase. The visual treatment is very straight forward and minimalist, which was purposeful in an effort early on to nail down the interaction before thinking about visual design/brand implementation.

Microsoft Announces Silverlight

by on April 17, 2007
in design

So what is Silverlight?

First let’s mitigate any confusion with some definitions. Silverlight used to be WPFe (Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) You may also have heard of WPF… WPF is built into .NET 3.0

Microsoft Announces Silverlight

Silverlight, the new cross-browser plug-in from Microsoft delivers rich new media experiences on the Web. In a nutshell Silverlight (formerly known as “WPFe” or Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere) is shaping up to be a very compelling alternative to Flash. Silverlight is a XAML rendering engine that runs in a browser plug-in and is targeted to work with Linux, Mac and Windows browsers. It does almost everything that WPF does, with the exception of some 3D rendering capabilities. I’m super excited about this new platform and have a feeling this will be all over MIX07.

As this new toolset matures it will evolve the landscape for user experience/interactive designers; enabling them to work directly within the desktop and browser environments from a single toolset. I’ll be attending a half-day design session on Friday to get my hands dirty with some of the advanced features of Microsoft’s Expression Blend. I’ll follow up on Friday with some high level notes from the design session, more to follow i’m sure…

Adobe’s Packaging Evolves…

by on April 16, 2007
in design

Now that Adobe has finally shipped CS3, I thought that it would be interesting to share this topic from the discussion lists at work.

This thread was originally captured by there by Jason Karls.

Photoshop CS3

Photoshop CS1

Photoshop CS

Glad to see they moved away from the eye obssesed artwork, although not sure I get the feathers either…

Photoshop 7.0

Still the greatest release of Photoshop EVER..!

Photoshop 6.0

Photoshop 5.5

Photoshop 4.0

Windows Home Server UI is everywhere…

by on April 5, 2007
in design

It’s so interesting to watch the wild tentacles of the internet flail about… the WHS UI is all over the internet

That being said it sure is interesting to hear what people have to say about the experience. So far the response seems to be mostly positive. Any sincere comments are more than welcome here… if you have questions about, why this? or what’s up with that? please feel free to comment. I’ll try and get to everyone I can.


From Zero to Visual Freeze

by on April 4, 2007
in design

We recently declared Visual Freeze on Windows Home Server V1 and so I decided to take a quick vacation to get out of the office and spend some time with the family. Ironically I’m actually on vacation while writing this.

After having reached this huge milestone I thought it would be an interesting time to reflect on the evolution of the Windows Home Server user interface, and take a look back at where it all began.

So over the next several weeks I’ll be sharing the complete history of the of the Windows Home Server console, including the first prototype UI from my first week almost two years ago. Watch this space, hopefully you will find the look back informative and insightful.

Tabs, Tabs, and More Tabs…

by on April 4, 2007
in design

I Heart Tab

In college years ago I took a Sociology class. In this class I wrote a paper about User Interface before I had ever considered designing anything (I actually studied fine art in school, not design.) The thesis of the paper was about the evolution of the user interface. My thesis taken verbatim from the paper was “All software user interface and interaction will evolve towards the web browser experience.”

I still believe this. This position statement is based upon the assumption that the vast majority of computer users spend more time within the web browser, site hopping, than doing anything else on their computer. People have a physiological need to push buttons (emotional, physical, and virtual…) Anyone with kids, or that has driven on I-5 recently should be well aware of this.

Ironically, I recently attended An Event Aprart in Seattle where I got to listen to one of my heroes, Jeffery Zeldman talk about a project, where he kept making the buttons bigger and bigger to see if the client would complain. In the end the web application was “all button,” but the client and the clients customers alike we’re as happy as clams with the design. Buttons are good, because human beings instinctually know what to do with them… push them! Morale of the story, you really can’t have a button that’s too big..!

In combining the idea of moving the interface towards the web analogy combined with the use of buttons for navigation we inevitably end up with, the tab… (not the soft drink from the 70s) Tabs are great. I heart tab. The reason is because everyone knows what they are, what to do with them, but no one really knows why. It just makes sense.

“I found Home Server to be intuitive to use and very effective at backing up data as well as monitoring my home network’s health. Its simplicity and automation will make it a winner with many home users. – Computerworld”

The success of the Windows Home Server console has been largely due to the big tabs at the top of it (even though they’ve presented some mighty localization challenges, fortunately our famous dev team has some interesting cards up their sleeves.)

The Windows Home Server console is the first server administration UI from Microsoft to employ horizontal tabs in this manner. And ironically all of this was a result of hiring a crazy contingent staff user experience designer and putting him a room alone for several weeks with a dual-proc machine loaded with two gigs of RAM (which was quite alot back in 2004…) and two twenty-one inch monitors. I have to say for the record that MS sure knows how to be good to it’s employees.

Long live the tab!

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