Windows Phone 7 needs a standard guideline for application icons

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With each passing day, news of WP7 keep rolling out. One thing we have learned is the attention to detail the team has put on the OS with examples of different sounds when pressing the keyboard, rotating icons in landscape mode and such. We already know about Metro UI, and how for example it eschews rounded corners and aspires to be minimalistic in contrast to the current 3D heavy interfaces. Wired magazine had an article about WP7 last month that gives a good description of the design concept.

The phrase “authentically digital” makes me want to barf rainbow pixels, but Microsoft’s description of the Windows Phone 7 interface is truth: It doesn’t try to feel like anything but a flat, digital interface. There is no attempt to depict three dimensionality or any kind of real-world mimesis. No gradients, shadows, gloss or shading. Everything is crisp and flat. Everything pops, bright primary colors and white text on a black landscape. Touch a tile on the main screen, and the interface flies away like exploding puzzle pieces, revealing the app you wanted to see. Oversized text is the order of the day. (Yes, it still runs off the screen in lots of place.) It feels gloriously modern. I love it.

Then, a few weeks back, developer Justin Angel posted a picture grid of icons showing some applications that were being tested on the WP7 marketplace. Without a doubt, most of the icons shown were hideous to say the least! Their designs did not work well with the Metro concept and in fact looked like they had been ported directly from the Android or iPhone. Compare that to the USGA demo golf app icon: that should be be the standard of how the icons should modeled after. I have not heard or seen anything from Microsoft mentioning a set of guidelines for this aspect of the OS. All they have said are recommendations to developers of what not to do. I think they should step up and officially codify a consistent way for this so that application icons and tiles look like part of the OS and not an abomination.

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