WPCentral meets needs of demanding readers with design update

WPCentral screenshot

Our ongoing series featuring Windows Phone design consultations continues this week, and we have an interesting case indeed. We take a look at recommendations given to Jay Bennett, creator of the very popular WPCentral application, which as you might expect has a loyal user base that turn to this resource on a regular basis for the latest details about anything and everything related to Windows Phone.

For instance, back in October, one reviewer (Kristina) of the app in Windows Phone Store had this to say: “It’s the first thing I read with my morning coffee. Well worth the price to get rid of ads, too.”

While Jay originally created the app by himself, there are several people on the core team from WPCentral, including bloggers and editors who refresh the content on a daily basis.

This app has been around since the beginning of Windows Phone 7 in early 2011, and a big part of the consultation was to help Jay find ways to update the app design from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8 styles. You can find a good summary about updating design from Windows Phone 7 to 8 online.

“I think there are a lot of different ways you can define design, but ultimately it is about making sure that everything looks really clean, clutter free and fits with the Windows Phone operating system itself,”said Jay. While interaction design also comprises a major part of overall application design Jay recognized that the visual design had become especially “stale” and he was ready for a fresh pair of eyes on the project.

Like our prior consultations, Jay had the opportunity to meet with Dave Crawford,design lead at Microsoft, to get some ideas for ways to enhance the app for its users.

Watch this short video to see the design consultation between Dave and Jay:

“They do have a challenge in that they do have the hardest of hard-core followers behind them, but that is also a strength,” said Dave. “They have a really vocal user base that will provide them with feedback. So, they do have a challenge but they have quite an opportunity here, too.”

Recommendations for improvement

  • Update the style of the app’s splash screen, perhaps with each new version of the app as a point of reference for the user.
  • While the use of various tiles to browse content within the app is useful, the tapping effect (and flip) that had been used is a bit “bling” (as Dave noted); the use of a more sophisticated Windows Phone 8 tilt effect was recommended instead.
  • ing a collapsed app bar to better organize the information that is presented on screen.
  • Organize the app settings to be more in line with overall OS-level settings, which will then also help to solve issues related to “gesture competition” (details about this topic are in the extended video with Dave below).

How to enhance your Windows Phone apps

Are you ready to enhance your Windows Phone app? Start with this video that shows you the best Tips & Tricks from Dave Crawford when it comes designing apps for Windows Phone:

The Windows Phone Dev Center has information about tile design guidelines, and proper use of the app bar for Windows Phone 8.

Additional guidance for designing great apps is available in the Windows Phone Dev Center within their Design Library. You can also find sources of inspiration in Nokia Developer’s Design Gallery.

Design consultations are available as rewards from Nokia’s DVLUP program, including an introductory one-hour consultation with the experts from Toledo Design.

If you want to learn more about Jay, and his work, check out his website.