Nothing is wrong with Metro Tiles. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It’s actually true. Metro is perfectly fine as a User Interface but the problem is that both the vendor and software makers have abused the platform. Stay with me here because it actually will start to make sense. The Metro style interface is a blank canvas. Its a design aesthetic that Microsoft, developers and software partners will use to design apps and software going forward. It’s not inherently good or bad, it’s a blank canvas. You can take a blank canvas and paint a beautiful painting or you can throw red paint on it and mess it up. Either way, there’s nothing wrong with the canvas, it’s the painter’s fault. I have 2 concrete examples of how not to use Metro and the first one is the Vendor – Microsoft.
The (App) StoreWhen you click on the store icon to get to the app store, you are greeted by about 10 tiles (All stars, New Releases etc). When you scroll right, you see the Games and Social sections, then you scroll right for Entertainment and Photo and on and on it goes. [caption id="attachment_17059" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Windows App Store[/caption] It’s AWFUL. It’s a very inefficient way to use a potentially efficient canvas. It’s like creating a web page that is 12 pages long vertically. There’s a reason why we don’t build web pages that long and it’s because in general, readers don’t have the patience for that. The irony is that if the first page of the Store looked like this: [caption id="attachment_17060" align="alignnone" width="600"] Alternate App Store Intro tiles[/caption] It would be more attractive and intuitive. You could also neatly fit all the categories (Games, Social etc) onto the first page. I guess my point is, if you are going to make people scroll, at least make them scroll only when you have to and not just because. Bottom line is, it doesn’t make sense to have us scroll ridiculously at the home page. It makes sense to use the scroll for readers who want to check out sub categories. For instance like the photo above, if I wanted to check out all the top free apps in Books and Reference, if there were 120 apps, it might make sense to make me scroll a little bit. It could also be argued that a better UI at that point would further sub categorize them so I didn’t have to use more than one screen. Not Metro’s fault, but the designer’s fault. Another example in the Windows App Store… Install the Autotrader.com app [caption id="attachment_17061" align="alignnone" width="600"] Autotrader Tiles[/caption] Oh my Gosh! What a trainwreck! They just throw cars and tiles and categories at you and you’re meant to scroll and do something with it. Too many pictures scrolling across the screen is visually overwhelming. You just keep scrolling and scrolling and your eyes are drawn to all those cars and titles and links – this right off the bat! Contrast that with their website (which is looking a little older but is still effective). [caption id="attachment_17062" align="alignnone" width="600"] Autotrader Web Page[/caption] All the visual cues I need to find what I need above the fold on the homepage. In 3 or 4 seconds, I know where I need to go to get where I need to. There’s nothing wrong with Metro but Microsoft need to teach UI standards and best practices and do their best to enforce them. There’s a lot on the line to get this right. If they don’t, people will just say Metro (and by extension) Windows 8 Suck! Once again, this is all my opinion, maybe the general public disagree. Let’s talk about what else needs fixing. I call these – the usual suspects.
Articles in the series:
- Windows 8 Final Review – Introduction and Disclaimers
- Windows 8 Final Review Part 2 – The Microsoft Vision
- Windows 8 Final Review Part 3 – What Microsoft got right
- Windows 8 Final Review Part 4 – What Microsoft got wrong – Metro Tiles
- Windows 8 Final Review Part 5 – What Microsoft got wrong – Usual Suspects
- Windows 8 Final Review Part 6 – Summary and Conclusions