Helping shoppers save time and money with an intelligent browser

By Parinishtha Yadav

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With the world in the middle of a pandemic, this holiday shopping season will be unlike what we have seen before. People who would normally visit multiple stores for the festive sales will be moving online. Holiday spending will change and a lot of things will be novel this time around, making it difficult for retailers to prepare like they usually would.

The shift to digital commerce has accelerated ever since online buying became one of the safest ways to purchase everything from groceries to appliances. Retailers are also focusing on their online experience, spreading out deals and re-curating their catalogue (comfy loungewear is possibly featured on more apparel site banners than ever before). While some retailers optimize their design to get people to click “buy” or see feeds of related products, shoppers don’t always have the information they need to make a buying decision they feel great about. …


What introverts can teach us about better meeting design

By Arathi Sethumadhavan, Josh Lovejoy, and Eric Hull

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“Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again.” — Anaïs Nin

One of the most popular TED talks of all time is by Susan Cain, whose book The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking struck a less-than-silent chord with a population whose value we often overlook: introverts.

Even though between one-third and half of the population is introverted, Western culture exhibits a bias toward extroversion. Gregariousness is often falsely conflated with productivity, adults encourage quieter kids to “come out of their shells,” and extroverts rate as smarter, better looking, and more interesting. …


Microsoft LGBTQI+ employees and allies speak out for queer and racial equity

By: Aleksey Fedorov (he/him/they/them) and Tiernan Madorno (she/her), Co-Directors for Microsoft Pride

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Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and countless others. Pride started because Black and Latinx transgender people stood up for justice in unjust society. Today, the struggle is no less real. We stand with and next to our Black and African American employees and communities in the fight against systemic oppression and racism. Now is not the time for silence.

When we speak, others react. Often with messages of support, and sometimes with hurtful labels and discouraging words. “Where’s straight Pride?” “Shouldn’t all lives matter?” …


Tailoring complex experiences for every user level

By: Leon Welicki and Joe Hallock

A single yet complex system; half white and half dark blue to symbolize different users using a single system.
A single yet complex system; half white and half dark blue to symbolize different users using a single system.

Microsoft Azure is an ever-expanding set of cloud computing services that are used by millions of people around the world. The Azure portal is an entry point — a place where one can explore, learn, acquire, manage, and operate Azure applications, services, and infrastructures. With hundreds of services and over a thousand capabilities, the portal attracts a broad range of user profiles.

For those just getting started (evaluator, beginner, and intermediate users), the concepts, terminology, and workflows can seem complex and intimidating. For experienced IT professionals (expert or power user), the “cloud” is relatively straightforward and understandable. Outside of the concepts, the scale of the offerings brings unique challenges that can be summarized in one question: how do we introduce an expanding experience to a broad set of customers with different backgrounds and needs? …


5 things the Outlook mobile team learned about scaling dark mode design

A dark UI background on the Outlook mobile app.
A dark UI background on the Outlook mobile app.

By: Wayne Sun and Joe Woodward

Imagine you’re tasked with implementing dark mode. You look around for standards, only to find a wild west of creatively applied themes in third-party environments. Hours turn into days. The darkness consumes you, and the answer becomes more distant with every keystroke. Meanwhile, dark mode continues to climb as a top customer ask in your feedback channels. The pressure’s on. What’s clear: people want dark mode. What isn’t: how to do it in a way that’s scalable without losing the product’s soul.

This isn’t as easy as it seems. Designing a cohesive, maintainable dark mode that makes existing creature comforts feel fresh seemed like a daunting task to the Outlook mobile design team. But after chatting with a few people in the community, we know we’re not alone. We’ve found five things to think about when designing for dark mode, and we hope you’ll find them helpful too. …


How we streamlined resource creation in Microsoft Azure to improve usability, consistency, and accessibility

By: Leon Welicki and Joe Hallock

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Microsoft Azure’s audience is broad and diverse, ranging from large organizations to hobbyists and students. Most customers use the Azure portal to acquire, manage, and monitor their services. Our challenge was to improve the resource creation processes, like creating a virtual machine instance, for hundreds of products impacting millions of customers.

During setup and initial configuration in Azure, customers decide what service they want to acquire and provide information to set up an instance of that service. …


Meaningful insights from three very different GHC attendees

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📷: AnitaB.org

The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing (GHC) is the world’s largest gathering of women technologists. Started in 1994 and held annually, the conference supports and recognizes the hard work of women (historically underrepresented) across the entire tech industry, reminding them that they are not alone. Over the weekend, three of our colleagues attended and contributed to panels, presentations, and informal meetings on the 2018 GHC theme: “We Are Here”. Their experiences at the GHC prove that everyone can benefit from fostering a more inclusive tech community.

Diversity beyond the data

By: Joanna Ngai, UX designer

In high school, I felt pressured to do well in advanced classes because I was Asian-American and therefore had to be high achieving. My identity was supposed to align with what was pre-defined for me in the eyes of others (#ModelMinorityMyth). Stereotypes are powerful because the narratives we tell ourselves are powerful.


Five ways emerging women leaders can lift each other up

By: Christina Koehn, Gabi Duncombe, Kelly Graham, Llewyn Paine, Lauren Cascio, and Brooklyn Brown

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📷: Tegan Mierle

Within, a retreat for emerging women design leaders in tech, is an immersive four-day experience. It provides an intimate space to connect and exchange ideas, discover new methodologies and strategies, and practice mindful leadership.

Microsoft was one of the event sponsors this year, and six women from our company attended the fall retreat in Paradise Valley, AZ. …


How we implemented the Fluent Design System across Microsoft Azure to improve usability, consistency, and accessibility for a highly complex and evolving cloud

By: Joe Hallock and Leon Welicki

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The updated design of the Azure portal dashboard in both the light and dark themes.

Our team has just released modern design improvements to refresh the look and feel of the Microsoft Azure portal. These changes increase productivity, improve accessibility, and make better use of your valuable screen real estate. Some key changes include:

  • Hierarchical depth that draws focus to the right information at the right time
  • Improved information density and better use of screen real estate by aligning to a new Microsoft standard for data density
  • Simplified visuals that reduce clutter, remove unnecessary lines and decorations, and create better flow between different areas in the UI
  • Improved information…


3 designers reflect and recap their time at the 2018 Adobe 99u Conference

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With the many reasons designers have given to go to the Adobe 99u Conference, we knew that week in New York City this past May would be inspiring. What took us by surprise was how the event put the larger picture into focus — a growing creative culture in which empathy, vulnerability, and authenticity are elevated more than ever. As we settle into our day-to-day lives, we do so with a renewed passion to use our creativity on behalf of ourselves as women in design, our design circles, and our global community. …

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