Windows Phone 7 aims to sound “friendly, light-hearted, and empathic”

Windows Phone 7 wishes to sound friendly and light heartedTucked away on page 192 of the UI Design and Interaction Guide for Windows Phone 7 (the Wolf Bytes blog noticed so,e good advice by Microsoft on the tone and language Microsoft uses in Windows Phone 7 and also wants Windows phone 7 developers to use in their own applications:

Many users consider text displayed on computers to be another language called computerese, a jargon-filled, soulless, completely impenetrable foreign language that torments them by hindering their ability to complete  tasks and asks nonsensical questions in dialog boxes.

Windows Phone 7 banishes computerese entirely and developers should as well. The Windows Phone 7 voice and tone should be human, clear and consistent.

Voice refers to the personality within the text. For example, the voice of  the writer would be their overall personality expressed by what they write. Tone is the overall mood of the text such as happy or angry. The Windows Phone 7 tone is friendly, light-hearted, and empathic.

One method to check if text has the proper voice and tone would be to see if it sounds like a friend assisting another friend with something on the phone. An example would be helping them understand an error message that appears in the application. A developer shouldn’t offer a rigid, uninformative response when trying to explain an issue such as, “Error Code: 4B696C626F.” Many people could be confused or frustrated by that message, as it provides no context or potential solution. However, something such as, “There is some info missing here. Please enter your name in the text box to move to the next page,” is clear, friendly and provides a helpful suggestion.

It is imperative to give users a meaningful response in a casual, comprehensible manner. Help them fix the problem in a way that they can understand.

Consider the string, “Synchronize the phone device.” It sounds mechanical and stilted. Instead, “Sync your phone,” sounds much more like what someone would tell a friend to do.

Another example is, “Schedule a calendar event for tomorrow through Outlook.” It is neither friendly nor representative of how a friend would speak.  An alternative could be “Set up an appointment for tomorrow in Outlook.”

Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 UI guidelines have been accused of being pretty soulless itself, but in this passage the company shows what they intend the phone to be, a companion, not just a tool.

Via the Wolf Bytes Blog.

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