Phil Getzen, in February, describing a Microsoft developer event he attended:
Then I started looking at apps (both stock and 3rd party), and I realized something. Every app looked the same. Every. Single. App.
While he was talking about the now-abandoned Windows Phone 7, this issue is core to the design principles of Windows 8’s Metro environment as well.
On some level, the same is true for iOS for apps that use UIKit with the standard control appearances. But UIKit adapts to rich, custom designs well when it’s asked to, and customers have come to expect non-standard designs from high-profile apps.
Metro’s design principle in this area seems to be to let “the content” be the design, but that doesn’t work for a lot of app types. And even for apps that incorporate appropriate “content”, customers expect more from the design of the controls and non-content screens. (Believe me.)
If designers create beautiful, rich, iOS-style Metro interfaces, they’ll look garish or out of place. And if they follow Metro’s lead instead, there’s a good chance that everything will look stark, bland, sterile, and undifferentiated.
Assuming neither approach can produce great, desirable designs that fit well on the platform and give designers the creative freedom and differentiation that they need, can Metro’s rigid design language accommodate a middle ground?