(For an overview of this series, please read this post.)
I can’t stress enough the importance of prototype and validating your Metro apps early and often during development. You, or your team, may have a Metro app in mind. Perhaps you’ve even gone through the planning and have answered the questions raised in this series of blog posts. However, you need to keep in mind that you and/or your team are a small number of individuals. You need to know how your true end users will view your application. If you don’t, you will end up simply creating an application for yourself.
You want to be sure to start getting this feedback early on in the development process. It’s easier to address issues as they arise rather than waiting until the end of the development cycle. If you’re practicing Agile software development practices, you are (or should be) doing this already.
With that said, I’d recommend getting a good understanding of Microsoft’s UX guidelines for Metro style applications. Microsoft has spent a great deal of time and money researching, developing, and refining these guidelines, and they’re giving them to you for free, so take advantage. In particular, make sure you understand the following fundamentals:
- Splash screen: Use the splash screen to smooth the transition between when people launch your app and when it’s ready for use. The splash screen should subtly reinforce your brand with your users, not distract them or advertise to them.
- Suspend and resume app state: Users will switch your app on and off the screen, and Windows will terminate it in the background when it is unused. You should save and resume the app state when possible to maintain context.
- Auto-launching and “Open With”: Launch the default app for a file type or protocol from your app.
- Globalization, localization, and app resources: Windows is used worldwide, so you need to design your app so that resources, such as strings and images, are separated from their code, to help make localization easy.
- Accessibility: Make your app available to all users regardless of their abilities, disabilities, or preferences. If you use the built-in UI controls, you get accessibility for free. When you need to create custom controls.
- App help: Provide help or troubleshooting tips to your users.
- Store categories: Learn how to create great apps for specific Windows Store categories, like games or entertainment.
Mastering these fundamentals is not a substitute for the prototyping process, but they can help you avoid usability issues that may come up as part of the validation process.
Next up, about the logo.