Designing for Windows Phone First

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Joe Pratt is the CEO and design lead for Pepper, a social mobile application for live music enthusiasts. Principally a mobile UI/UX designer, Joe has a passion for creating novel and engaging applications that make the most of the latest technologies. He is also known for his sensational homemade BBQ sauce.

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As a designer I'm always looking for the most efficient way to complete a task. Whether this is making a cup of tea or designing a mobile app, there are always techniques that can help you get the best result with the least amount of effort. Making a cup of tea (English breakfast) efficiently is simple, brew up a pot. Designing a mobile app is not quite that simple.

If you're looking to achieve mass adoption of your app, you cannot afford to ignore any of the 4 main platforms (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry & Windows Phone). However, this raises new questions that the designer should consider before commencing a project:

- Does the first platform you design for have an impact on the app's design on other platforms?

- Is starting with platform X more efficient than platform Y?

90%+ of designers will automatically go for their iPhone template kit. It is the obvious choice, but I was never convinced that it was the most efficient or that I was getting the most out of the initial idea. It was only after designing my first application for Windows Phone that I realised there was another way.

"Content is king" is the phrase I hear so often, yet many applications seem to forget this. The Windows Phone design language requires the designer to focus on content and information architecture from day one. The UI guidelines don't just define how an app should look and feel; they impart a modern way of thinking about application design.

From researching the design through to conceptualisation, I've found a clearer, shorter route to the core of a project when thinking about designing for Windows Phone. Moving the concept across to other platforms was simplified by the reduction of clutter in the design, and in my mind. On a practical note, the Windows interface reduces time when wire framing and mocking up. No need to add the chrome or ornamentation. Just simple, clean interface items that my niece can draw more accurately than me.

On a different tangent, when I have demonstrated apps on Windows Phone I have been pleasantly surprised by the reactions I have received. Fresh and fluid compared to other platforms; it generates more engagement and consequently leaves a greater mark on the client.

As with most things, it's what works best for the individual designer, especially when it comes to creativity. Designing Windows first could be an epiphany for you. It could improve your design process and result in better apps. As long as the app I'm designing needs to be on multiple platforms, I'll look to Windows Phone first.

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