(For an overview of this series, please read this post.)
I remember the first, of what would turn out to be many, paper I wrote on epistemology during college. For those who may not know, epistemology is the study of knowledge. It attempts to answer the following three questions:
- What is knowledge?
- How do we gain knowledge?
- To what extent is it possible for a given subject to be known?
(You can read more about epistemology here.)
This particular paper was on the nature of first impressions. My contention was that while first impressions do not result in true knowledge of an individual, they do have an immediate impact on how we view, or judge, the individual in subsequent interactions. In fact, I may choose not to interact with an individual in the future due to a first impression. It’s entirely possible that my first impression of a person was in no way an accurate reflection of who the person really is (maybe he or she was having a bad day), but, having no other information at my disposal, the first impression is all I have to go on.
OK, enough rambling. What on earth does this have to do with Metro apps? Simple, you need to be very conscientious of your application’s first impression. You may have created the greatest Metro app of all time, but if it doesn’t engage the user on the Start screen, or takes a long time to load then you haven’t given the user a good reason to use your application.
Think about what you want users to think, feel, or do when they first launch your app. Refer back to your “great at” statement. Even though you won’t get a chance to personally tell your users what your app is great at, you can convey the message to them when you make your first impression. Take advantage of these:
Tile & notifications The tile is the face of your app. Among the many other apps on a user’s Start screen, what will make the user want to launch your app? Be sure your tile highlights your app’s brand and shows what the app is great at. Make use of tile notifications so that your app will always feel fresh and relevant, bringing the user back to your app again and again.
Splash screen The splash screen should load as fast as possible, and remain on the screen only as long as you need to initialize your app state. What you show on the splash screen should express your app’s personality.
First launch Before users sign up for your service, log in to their account, or add their own content, what will they see? Try to demonstrate the value of your app before asking users for information. Consider showing sample content that people can play around with to understand the purpose of your app before you ask them to commit.
Home page The home page is where you bring users each time they launch your app. The content here should have a clear focus and immediately showcase what your app is tailored for. Make this page great at one thing and trust that people will explore the rest of your app. Solve for distractions on the landing page, not discoverability.
Next up, prototype and validate.