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My Experience at Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp

June 11th, 2013 Kumar Shah No comments

As a Web App / GUI designer, it’s important to keep learning new design tips and techniques, so on June 7th, I attended the all-day Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp in Pune, India.

Not only did I learn valuable design information, but I was thrilled to be declared a Winner for the camp’s design contest!

Please read on to find out more about the Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp, the key Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and practices I learned, and the exciting design contest that I participated in. 

What was the Microsoft Design Camp all about?

This non-technical, no-fluff workshop for visual designers and UX designers, by designers, was about developing world-class apps from experts such as Brandy Porter and Brian Harper from Big Nerd Ranch. They had also developed some bonus content around responsive web design. It was a wonderful opportunity to network with other designers, cook up my own designs, and showcase those designs for the contest.

The time was split between discussing key principles of Windows Store app design and applying what was learned in design exercises. There I was introduced to the new Windows 8 operating system, and the design and UX patterns that exist in Windows Store apps. The day started with an overview of Windows 8, the Modern UI, and the Microsoft Design Language. It led into a series of discussions followed by lab time, where we were asked to draw up wireframes for our application, at each stage implementing the theory we had heard. The camp was a mix of presentation, discussion, and hand-on design exercises.

What was the agenda?

In this design camp, they covered:

  • Principles of Microsoft Design
  • Navigation
  • Layout
  • UI Elements
  • Charms, Contracts, and Extensions
  • Snapping and Scaling
  • Windows Store
  • Bonus Content: Responsive Web Design
  • "Cook up a design" Contest (which I won!)

We had Windows 8 sketch pads, pencils and Sharpies to use. I had my Windows 8 laptop to drive through some of the theory.

What I learned?

I learned how to approach application design for Windows 8, the unique experiences that a Windows 8 user expects from an application, and how I should approach some of the unique features of Windows 8 and bring them to life within my app.

At the Windows 8 Design Camp, the learning was all about Microsoft design language and how to apply it to designing a Windows Store app; understanding the principles of great Windows Store app design; learning the UX guidelines and applying them in my own design.

About the "Cook up a design" contest

The goal of the Windows 8 Design Camps was to guide us through the design of our first Windows Store app, and so for the contest, I designed an app. In each session of the camp, I learned a different aspect of Windows Store app design via a combination of presentation and discussion. After each presentation, we were asked to go through the applied aspect of the theory learned by designing our own app in a design lab on the topic. All the labs were done with paper and pencil. When we were ready for feedback, the Design Camp’s instructors were available to discuss our design.

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

Me (in front, wearing a black shirt) discussing my design concept with contest judge Brandy Porter (right) while sketching

The criteria for the contest was that contestants had to consider Windows 8 guidelines and come up with a clean, catchy, and innovative app design with a creative app logo, in a 90-minute time limit. The panel of four judges took some time to ponder and determine the five finalists.

I was so excited to hear my name declared first out of the five winners in Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp as “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store”, out of 19 designs and 40 designers from TCS, Cybage, Wipro, Fiserv, Congenzent, and the list goes on.

Showcased below are wireframes (sketches) and actual designs (sketches converted into real design) that I made during the competition. Three levels of mock content pages were created – hub, section, and detail pages.

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the hub page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the section page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

This is the sketch and actual design of the detail page that I created for my app

Please see below for more pictures of that memorable event:

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the 'Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store' contest

Shaking hands with Mark (left) as he calls my name as winner of the “Most Innovative Design for Windows 8 App Store” contest

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the  screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me,  and Brandy Porter

Me on the dais receiving prize from Microsoft experts and the panel of judges. My design is showcased on the screen to the left. From left to right: Brian Harper, Mark, Sandeep Alur, me, and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Me with Microsoft experts and contest judges – Brian Harper and Brandy Porter

Winners’ designs will be showcased on the Microsoft website after minor changes suggested by judges.

The Microsoft Windows 8 Design Camp provided an excellent opportunity to learn new Microsoft Windows 8 design concepts and put them into practice. I look forward to applying this knowledge to new design areas!

Kumar Shah is a Creative Expert at Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 5 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011.