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  1. vaultboy21's Avatar
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       #1  
    My take on the newly announced WP8 (and WP7.8) Start Screen. Tried to take a more in-depth look at it and argue for exactly what I like, don't like, and why. Note: I originally wrote this as a comment on the official WP UserVoice page and also posted this on The Verge as well, thought I'd throw it up here to discuss with my fellow WPCentralists (<- you like that?).

    Love the new mini-tiles, hate the removal of the gap and stretching-out of the existing tiles. The start screen has become considerably more cluttered and has lost much of its charm. And itís not the addition of mini-tiles, but the lack of whitespace that makes the new start screen look so noisy now; and itís so sad to see it, in that itís in such sharp contract to the cleanliness and beautiful design aesthetics of WP7.

    Iíve had a WP for over a year now (as long as Verizon has let me, but Iíve been an enthusiast since first sight), and every time I pull it out, till this day, Iím left with a sense of wonder just looking at the level of detail and thought that went into designing the UI, especially the start screen. Just navigating and sliding around is so enjoyable and gives such a great feeling of relaxation and calmness that Iíve never witnessed interacting with any other interface (including the previews of W8; though it has its own charm as well).

    I believe I understand why the gap was removed and why the existing tiles were scaled-up to stretch the screen. This is necessary to make the new mini-tiles large enough to display notifications/counters (missed calls, # new emails, etcÖ). But it has completely ruined one of WPís greatest assets, its design. Again, Iíd say the mini-tiles look great, but look at the traditional tiles nowÖ The square tiles have become comically large for their purpose (look at all the stock appsí tiles like phone/email/messages, having them as full-sized squares makes them look bare and stale, and adds absolutely no value to me as a user, they just take up more space). As for the double-wide tiles, I am glad to see greater flexibility in their use, but increasing them in size doesnít add value here. Itís great that all appsí tiles can now be expanded, but that could have been accomplished just fine in the existing layout (as the pictures hub and calendar are).

    I really believe the ideal solution would have been to keep the current configuration (left-aligned columns of tiles, with the gap and arrow) but just allow for smaller mini-tiles (but with no notification capabilities). I think this concept highlights it well: http://i.imgur.com/tIAaw.png. In this case you get the added benefits of having small tiles, which if my math is correct, would come-out to roughly the size of the tiles used in the app list, making for a nice consistency.

    I know itís probably too late in the design process to see this come about but I really hope Microsoft is listening to feedback and will at least allow for an option to reintroduce the gap (even if it means I donít get mini-tiles)...

    I really canít say why this is bugging me so much, but it is. As a hardcore WP enthusiast since the very beginning, and someone who has loved watching the platform grow and expand (and fully understands the needs of it to do so), for the first time, Iíve been left with an uneasy feeling about the platform and the decisions being made.

    So these are my thoughts on the issue. I've tried to approach things in a level-headed way and try to understand the rationale behind the changes. Would love to hear what others have to say in this regard.


    Thanks.


    p.s. Please vote on the official Windows Phone UserVoice page for at least an OPTION to maintain the current Start Screen configuration here
    AngryNil likes this.
  2. theefman's Avatar
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    #2  
    WP's design is more than the start screen, it covers the panoramas, typography, pivots, and a focus on information and not chrome. I still see all those principles in WP8, and removing the black space doesnt change the philosophy of Metro.
  3. vp710's Avatar
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    #3  
    For anyone wanting to "test" the new start screen on their device: save the image below, open it and switch back and forth between your current start screen and the still image of the new one, pressing the Windows key and the back key repeatedly.



    Personally, I think this new start screen will be an improvement.

    And if you really want the gutter back, you can always do this (sorry about the poor photoshop skills)



    Now, no reason to complain anymore. :D
    Last edited by vp710; 06-22-2012 at 04:59 PM.
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  4. theefman's Avatar
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    #4  
    Quote Originally Posted by vp710 View Post
    For anyone wanting to "test" the new start screen on their device: save the image below, open it and switch back and forth between your current start screen and the still image of the new one, pressing the Windows key and the back key repeatedly.

    Click to view quoted image


    Personally, I think this new start screen will be an improvement.
    Tried it and yep, you really feel your whole screen is alive. Definitely better for me.
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  5. based_graham's Avatar
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    #5  
    What about for people with poor eye sight?

    The bigger the tiles the easier to read

    A lot of older folks seriously have a hard time reading content on a phone especially the iPhone. When I switched them to Windows Phone everything is bigger everything is bolder.

    Just take that into consideration.

    Regards

    Based_Graham@twitter
  6. selfcreation's Avatar
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    #6  
    Quote Originally Posted by based_graham View Post
    What about for people with poor eye sight?

    The bigger the tiles the easier to read

    A lot of older folks seriously have a hard time reading content on a phone especially the iPhone. When I switched them to Windows Phone everything is bigger everything is bolder.

    Just take that into consideration.

    Regards

    Based_Graham@twitter
    I was just thinking that looking at the picture .. not to mention people with BIG fingers!!!
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  7. based_graham's Avatar
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    #7  
    Quote Originally Posted by Se1fcr3ation View Post
    I was just thinking that looking at the picture .. not to mention people with BIG fingers!!!
    Also remember new resolutions

    Regards,

    based_graham@twitter
  8. #8  
    Quote Originally Posted by theefman View Post
    WP's design is more than the start screen, it covers the panoramas, typography, pivots, and a focus on information and not chrome. I still see all those principles in WP8, and removing the black space doesnt change the philosophy of Metro.
    it does massively. i fear this is a first step of destroing the beauty of metro. everything needs whitespace: photographies, your living room ;), etc. whitespace is no waste of space, it is a key part of design. the beauty of metro letzs me change from androis to wp. now i am very sad. because the wp screen is more cluttered as the android or ios screen. now one at apple would have the idea to bring littel icons between the large ones just to no waste space.

    the only point is that on windows phone it was decentered.

    i like the small icons as well but they dont need to remove the gutter for that.

    here my solution:

    Directupload.net - 5dvg94ag.jpg

    here you can vote fpr nice design:

    Add setting to enable the "gutter" and app arrow in WP 7.8/8
    AngryNil likes this.
  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by vp710 View Post
    For anyone wanting to "test" the new start screen on their device: save the image below, open it and switch back and forth between your current start screen and the still image of the new one, pressing the Windows key and the back key repeatedly.

    Click to view quoted image


    Personally, I think this new start screen will be an improvement.

    And if you really want the gutter back, you can always do this (sorry about the poor photoshop skills)

    Click to view quoted image


    Now, no reason to complain anymore. :D

    for _me_ the small icons are useless. i have the small list on the right screen. i can start an app with tellme. i dont need the messed screen.

    Directupload.net - 5dvg94ag.jpg

    this is my solution for that.

    in my solution the small tiles are even bigger than the ones in the app list.

    on the news windows phone screen there is no air to breathe. in fact ios has more whitespace than windows phone (between icons) android has more whitespace.

    only the new startscreen of w8 looks now like a womans desktop and with al the blinking mini tiles you will have a problem.

    good design is always a game between used and unused space.

    and i dont get the idea, because w8 has whitespace in similar style and asymetric too.
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  10. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #10  
    Quote Originally Posted by theefman View Post
    removing the black space doesnt change the philosophy of Metro.
    As a huge proponent of Metro, I see this move going directly against the simplicity and visual balance that makes differentiates good Metro design and bad Metro design. Instead of making broad, sweeping statements, how about you address the problem at hand? Get off the moral high horse and argue the point to the death - what could you stand to lose?


    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanclaudebaktiste View Post
    in my solution the small tiles are even bigger than the ones in the app list.
    Your mock up is freaking amazing and you need to cross-post it on every single article arguing this point. I think it's extremely telling that your mock up is far better done than the contrasting "debunkerings" of the gutter's usefulness - people not worried about visual balance trying to defend Microsoft versus someone who respects Metro and isn't afraid to stand up to its creator (Microsoft) about it.


    Quote Originally Posted by based_graham View Post
    The bigger the tiles the easier to read
    It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely. It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely. It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely. It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely. It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely. It is possible to add an option instead of removing a feature completely.
    Last edited by AngryNil; 06-23-2012 at 08:39 AM.
  11. Winterfang's Avatar
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    #11  
    Quote Originally Posted by vp710 View Post
    For anyone wanting to "test" the new start screen on their device: save the image below, open it and switch back and forth between your current start screen and the still image of the new one, pressing the Windows key and the back key repeatedly.

    Click to view quoted image


    Personally, I think this new start screen will be an improvement.

    And if you really want the gutter back, you can always do this (sorry about the poor photoshop skills)

    Click to view quoted image


    Now, no reason to complain anymore. :D
    Jesus Christ! the amount of wasted space on my current start screen is downright illogical. I want new screen now.
  12. tucana's Avatar
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    #12  
    I'm not sure about the new tile sizes, I think they will take away slightly from the great usability of Windows Phone, while also looking more cluttered. The new medium tiles and large tiles are quite tall, especially considering larger screen sizes (4.7"+) becoming more common. Also the smaller tiles just remind me of an iPhone icon grid, unimaginative, ugly and no room for live tile info.

    I think they should have designed the screen with a three tiles across instead of four, which I believe is a much more balanced look with medium and large tiles being wider options.

    Having three tiles across would also maintain the differentiation from iOS and Android, and tie in better with Windows 8, I think anyway.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails wp8-3-tile.jpg   wp8-3-tile-2-.jpg  
  13. Winterfang's Avatar
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    #13  
    I don't like that idea. Now that you can use the whole screen, the regular and big tiles are even larger and the new small tiles are bigger than regular icons while also being live.

    Its genius, ugly but genius.
  14. theefman's Avatar
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    #14  
    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    As a huge proponent of Metro, I see this move going directly against the simplicity and visual balance that makes differentiates good Metro design and bad Metro design. Instead of making broad, sweeping statements, how about you address the problem at hand? Get off the moral high horse and argue the point to the death - what could you stand to lose?

    .
    Get over yourself, Mr Metro design. The OP made a statement, I gave my view which happens to be different, how is that being on a high horse? And if you think only the start screen embodies metro then it's obvious you don't even know what its about. Otherwise all WP apps would look like ios or android apps and everyone would be happy with it, but that's not the reality, is it? And I guess since neither Windows 8 nor the Xbox have a "gutter" but have their live tiles centered on the screen they can not be said to have the Metro UI, right?
  15. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #15  
    Quote Originally Posted by theefman View Post
    Get over yourself, Mr Metro design. The OP made a statement, I gave my view which happens to be different, how is that being on a high horse? And if you think only the start screen embodies metro then it's obvious you don't even know what its about. Otherwise all WP apps would look like ios or android apps and everyone would be happy with it, but that's not the reality, is it? And I guess since neither Windows 8 nor the Xbox have a "gutter" but have their live tiles centered on the screen they can not be said to have the Metro UI, right?
    "Removing the black space doesnt change the philosophy of Metro" is a definitive statement. I am referring to that statement, coupled with the audacity of responding to a long, thought-out viewpoint with something that was borderline irrelevant, yet portrayed as factually sound. Your attitude in your opening sentence here simply cements my view of you.

    I never said the start screen embodies Metro. A design language is nothing if it's only used in certain places - you end up with a crapshoot like Android. But this is beside the argument - the new home screen is cluttered design, period. It doesn't matter if it's Metro, Holo or otherwise; no other home screen has such a ridiculously high amount of screen estate dedicated to the content.

    I emphasised two important points which differentiates good Metro design and bad Metro design - visual balance and simplicity. You'll see plenty of ugly apps in the Marketplace which are Metro-styled, and why are they ugly? Most will have a bad layout, or have too many things on screen at once.

    Don't try and draw parallels with this situation - in general, all good implementations of Metro have a large amount of white space to balance things out. Both Xbox and Windows 8 have generous spacing on the top and bottom. There's a reason why the Windows 8 start screen isn't just all tiles. Why is there so much space at the top dedicated just to the user picture & name, and the tile groups?
  16. blehblehbleh's Avatar
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    #16  
    ^I don't know buddy. I just watched the first tutorial video that summarized the principles of Metro Design and the new Start screen still falls under the principles of Light and Simple and Content Not Chrome. I get your arguments, but you're basically arguing on a hierarchy for those principles when, so far, I haven't seen MS state explicitly there is a hierarchy to the Metro design principles.

    To that end it does still fall within Metro principles, and a good comparative example that I can think of that's close enough is Albums under the Pictures Hub. If you notice all those tiles take up the entire space. Sure there's the header at the top, but if you're complaining about the entire width of the screen being taken up by content, the Albums screen is no different. Or do you not like that?

    I think what's throwing you and others off are the smaller tiles being placed with the other sizes, and I do understand that it can make the screen busy. Yet that's where the new personable aspect comes into play. I'd think too that out of the box the Start screen wouldn't look busy but more like the Albums screen minus the header
  17. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #17  
    blehblehbleh, very interesting post that got me thinking. Thanks a bunch for the albums example - provides a way for me to easily compare and consolidate my thoughts. I'm still weighing up the arguments you put forth, but here is my initial response:

    The new start screen is very visually impacting; it doesn't have a "light and simple" feel. Albums in the Pictures Hub look fine but not beautiful; I think what many users (just check out the comments on UserVoice) found was that the WP7 home screen was captivating and the gutter in fact garnered an emotional response. The new start screen is more functionality, but I don't see anyone getting emotionally attached to it. It does the job better, but Windows Phone has never been about sacrificing design for functionality.

    I'm not directly arguing for the gutter, I'm just saying it's what Microsoft came up with and to the best of my knowledge, probably the best way to balance the start screen out visually. By having a vertical margin, the tiles get smaller but you subsequently see more of them vertically. The album view does actually partially offset the heavy impacting tiles with the header, but this is not a practical implementation for a home screen. It also really strikes me how few tiles are shown in the album view; I'm definitely going for a 720p device for the 16:9.

    Another point to consider is pivot versus panorama. In the pivot layout, it is more commonplace to fill the entire screen with content - this is because when you swipe, the current screen flies out before the new pivot flies in. The albums view uses pivot, so it makes more sense for it to be full-width. However, you can compare with panorama, which I believe is the more artsy and beautiful. With a panorama layout, the content is essentially static, fixed in place - when you swipe, the phone acts as if it's just a long panorama you're swiping through. All content is already there, and as such you need spacing to break up the separate screens. You'll be hard pressed to find a panorama example which doesn't have adequate spacing.

    While I recognise the start screen is strictly neither, I think it falls closer on the side of panorama. This is because there is no fly-in / fly-out when you swipe across to the app list - it's one big canvas you're navigating around. As such, I find it suitable to have that vertical offset on the start screen by the principle of common panoramic design.

    I'm actually fine with the small tiles, as I've seen many shots where they are simply organised in a 2x2 arrangement, in place of a medium tile. Even with a more conventional layout, I find the mock ups with the gutter re-added far better than the tiles spanning across the entire display.
  18. vp710's Avatar
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    #18  
    irlju, even though I like the new start screen, I think you're making some good points.
  19. blehblehbleh's Avatar
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    #19  
    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    blehblehbleh, very interesting post that got me thinking. Thanks a bunch for the albums example - provides a way for me to easily compare and consolidate my thoughts. I'm still weighing up the arguments you put forth, but here is my initial response:
    No problem, it's good to flush these things out in our minds.

    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    The new start screen is very visually impacting; it doesn't have a "light and simple" feel. Albums in the Pictures Hub look fine but not beautiful; I think what many users (just check out the comments on UserVoice) found was that the WP7 home screen was captivating and the gutter in fact garnered an emotional response. The new start screen is more functionality, but I don't see anyone getting emotionally attached to it. It does the job better, but Windows Phone has never been about sacrificing design for functionality.
    I don't disagree that the new start screen can be very visually impacting. Though the "light and simple" I might disagree. On the one hand, the design tutorial video does say there should be a healthy balance of white space and the new start screen can definitely take away that healthy balance. Yet, at the same time the video does mention that the principles are "guiding principles," and as a result they never really say how strict or how lax they should be.

    Considering that the Start screen now has three tile sizes, can we really say that it contravenes these design principles? I'm not sure if there's a clear answer and no doubt the only objective answer would come from MS itself. Until then it seems like it's a subjective test.

    Now I'm not saying the new Start screen is better, but I'm just presenting a point for further consideration.

    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    I'm not directly arguing for the gutter, I'm just saying it's what Microsoft came up with and to the best of my knowledge, probably the best way to balance the start screen out visually. By having a vertical margin, the tiles get smaller but you subsequently see more of them vertically. The album view does actually partially offset the heavy impacting tiles with the header, but this is not a practical implementation for a home screen. It also really strikes me how few tiles are shown in the album view; I'm definitely going for a 720p device for the 16:9.
    Totally understand and I do see how it focuses your eyes on the content of the live tiles, and again also agree with your comments regarding the album view.

    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    Another point to consider is pivot versus panorama. In the pivot layout, it is more commonplace to fill the entire screen with content - this is because when you swipe, the current screen flies out before the new pivot flies in. The albums view uses pivot, so it makes more sense for it to be full-width. However, you can compare with panorama, which I believe is the more artsy and beautiful. With a panorama layout, the content is essentially static, fixed in place - when you swipe, the phone acts as if it's just a long panorama you're swiping through. All content is already there, and as such you need spacing to break up the separate screens. You'll be hard pressed to find a panorama example which doesn't have adequate spacing.

    While I recognise the start screen is strictly neither, I think it falls closer on the side of panorama. This is because there is no fly-in / fly-out when you swipe across to the app list - it's one big canvas you're navigating around. As such, I find it suitable to have that vertical offset on the start screen by the principle of common panoramic design.
    Hmm, well first we have to narrow down whether the Start screen encompasses the App list. I've seen people refer to each as separate.

    If one were unifying the two, then I think it falls strictly in its own unique state because it occupies both, though I see your point. I mean when you tap a live tile or an app the Start screen pivots. In that sense I don't think it'd be entirely wrong to take the full width of space just like the Album view, despite the possibility of being busy. However the reverse is true.

    Assuming that users were very vocal about the number of live tiles they could pin, scrolling issues, and visible information then MS had to come up with a solution. Unless they show the ability to make your own hub, this leaves the solution of the three tile sizes. It's a definitely a compromise but at least it's one that I think gives the ideal solution to satisfy at least most people--punt the choice to the user because those were the people that were vocal. Despite this, the "test" I think would be subjective because of the unique nature of both the Start screen and App list and again it probably should fall towards the user to make the decision because they have to live with it not MS.


    Now if one were to consider the Start screen and App list separate then, the Start screen works as a pivot like you described above because of the nature the live tiles launch. In that case, it's arguably okay for the tiles to take up the full width.

    Of course this whole discussion really only matters if you really want to work out some explicit rules of the design philosophy of Metro, but it sounds like and it would make sense that MS left the principles fairly broad.

    Quote Originally Posted by irlju View Post
    I'm actually fine with the small tiles, as I've seen many shots where they are simply organised in a 2x2 arrangement, in place of a medium tile. Even with a more conventional layout, I find the mock ups with the gutter re-added far better than the tiles spanning across the entire display.
    Noted.
  20. cedarlog's Avatar
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    #20  
    i think on windows phone 7 Microsoft focused on Design more than features
    on this release Microsoft putting their efforts on features more than design to fill the empty features space on developer event we only saw an early version of the start screen i do think the final product going to be more than great
  21. cedarlog's Avatar
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    #21  
    i think the small sized tiles exist on wp8 because they are going to introduce smartphones with qwerty keyboards something like BB but that's just me :D
  22. ejb222's Avatar
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    #22  
    I love the new Start Screen. I think this agruement has been beaten to death. I think we should just accept the new start screen the way it is and do our best to customize it to how we see fit. They listened to us on the last start screen to get us this far. But we have ZERO experience with the new Start Screen to be able to give MS viable feedback for future changes. I'm sure phones will ship with SIMPLE Start Screens to start in order not to confuse those with their very first WP. But to the rest of us who "get it" the new Start Screen is NOT confusing. If it is, it's your fault. You customized it that way...sort of like losing your own keys in your own house.

    3 Months after you have your new start screen lets take this topic up again.

    And as far as the Metro philosophy...the new start screen is every bit as Metro as the old one. Taste is a funny thing..every one has a different taste...but don't mistake it for fact.
    -Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.

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  23. AngryNil's Avatar
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    #23  
    Quote Originally Posted by ejb222 View Post
    Taste is a funny thing..every one has a different taste...but don't mistake it for fact.
    Explain to me how the new start screen achieves the visual balance of the old one, without the gutter. Explain to me why I'm going to be downgraded from eight visible medium tiles to six without an option to switch back.

    These aren't areas which you can simply dismiss and try to strong-arm the opposition into submission. We clearly have opinions about it, and guess what? Some of them are based on pretty solid ground. There's nothing wrong with arguing the points out.

    Also, slightly ironic how you make a million assumptions and definitive statements in the same comment where you're telling people to get over themselves (i.e. "don't mistaken [your opinions] as fact").

    Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of resizable tiles and the small tiles. I'm just sick of Microsoft providing no options and then a horde of fans defending such anti-consumer decisions to death.
  24. SnailUK's Avatar
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    #24  
    I like the new start screen. I've certainly never understood the wasted screen space on WP7, so WP8 looks perfect to me.

    What i would like to see, is more screen examples. Just small tiles, just medium tiles, just large tiles, see how they all look on their own.
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  25. 12Danny123's Avatar
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    #25  
    Quote Originally Posted by SnailUK View Post
    I like the new start screen. I've certainly never understood the wasted screen space on WP7, so WP8 looks perfect to me.

    What i would like to see, is more screen examples. Just small tiles, just medium tiles, just large tiles, see how they all look on their own.
    I agree with you! you can look at my signature if you want
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