At MSDN you can now download preliminary UI guidelines for Windows Vista. It is a whopping 20MB in the form of a web site and contains a lot of useful information.
In the guidelines, all (new) Controls are mentioned and their appropriate use. I was pleased to see that it also contains a section about applying Windows Presentation Foundation.
One of the quotes in the document about having easy to use software I especially like:
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add,
but when there is nothing left to take away.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupery
See below for an exerpt of the WPF section. I totally agree with this statement, because I’m afraid people will be starting to create “cool“ clients, just because they now can easily use 3D and stuff. As stated below, not everyhting has to be custom… As we say in holland: “WPF met mate!“ (use with care)…
You’ve seen all the WPF demos. You’ve seen that WPF makes it possible to completely change your program’s look to match your corporate branding, or to use a custom interaction model to give your program a “unique” feel. You can even customize a drop-down list to look like a slider!
But when are such changes from a traditional experience appropriate? Remember that those demos are intended to show what you can do, not what you should do.
What is “cool”?
WPF offers an exciting set of advanced capabilities. With this step forward comes the desire to create better—or “cooler”—software. All too often these attempts don’t seem to hit the mark. To understand why, let’s make a distinction between what makes a program cool and what doesn’t.
A program really is “cool” when it has:
- Features appropriate for the program and its target users.
- Aesthetically pleasing look and feel, often in a subtle way.
- Improved usability and flow, without harming performance.
- A lasting good impression—it’s just as enjoyable the 100th time as the first.
A program fails to be “cool” when it has:
- Use or abuse of a technology just because it can.
- Features that detract from usability, flow, or performance.
- Is in the user’s face, constantly drawing unneeded attention to itself.
- A fleeting good impression. It might have been fun the first time, but the enjoyment wears off quickly.
Just as in a painter’s palette there are no intrinsically good or bad colors, there aren’t intrinsically good or bad capabilities in WPF. Rather, for specific programs and their target users, we believe there are appropriate designs and inappropriate designs. Truly cool programs use technology because they should, not because they can.
To achieve coolness, start not by thinking about what the technology can do, but by focusing on what your target users really need. Before adding that “cool” feature, make sure there are clear user scenarios that support it.