Our early journey in crafting dual-screen experiences

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Over the last few decades, product makers have continuously adapted devices to meet a dynamic array of ever-changing human needs. We’ve made things smaller, lighter, more responsive, more inclusive. We’ve integrated sensory inputs and designed intelligent programs to support your ability to achieve with efficiency and elegance.

As both the rhythms of daily life and notions of productivity continue to change, we’ve been asking ourselves: How can we empower people to more fluidly navigate between creation and consumption, professional and personal?

Today’s release of the Microsoft Surface Duo — a dual-screen mobile device with experiences crafted specifically for this form factor — is one way we’re exploring these questions. …

On designing experiences that encompass your wellbeing

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Productivity is personal.

Who we are as human beings deeply influences productivity as both a process and an outcome. Our values and beliefs, the needs of our families, our personalities and preferences, how energized or deflated we feel when seeing our Calendars or To Dos — these are key facets of productivity.

And because nobody knows your external circumstances or inner emotional state better than you, achievement needs to happen on your terms to be sustainable. This is perhaps truer than ever because, for many, 2020 swallowed whole the proverbial work/life divide. …

How we hit “Ctrl + N” on mobile productivity

Co-authored with Deepak Menon, Partner Director of Design at Microsoft India

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Putting the incredible power of Office in your pocket.

Over 3 billion smartphone owners across the world use their devices to get things done in a matter of seconds. With the rise of smartphone use and the increase in global connectivity, we wanted to reimagine how people can efficiently and intuitively get work done on a phone or tablet.

Our designers and researchers from around the world convened in a metaphorical global huddle to learn how our customers use these micro-moments and to develop a mobile-focused design strategy for the new Office app on iOS and Android.

We studied customers in mobile-first and mobile-only markets to understand how people organically use their phones to create content and complete tasks. We observed people who were inherently on the go, like students, and looked at how they used their phones to efficiently complete tasks. We also studied people who were never at a desk, like shop floor workers, and noted how they got work done without a computer. …

Redesigning over 100 icons with new colors, materials, and finishes

A translucent ribbon with a sample of icons in a grid flowing across it.
A translucent ribbon with a sample of icons in a grid flowing across it.
A sampling of the new Microsoft 365 icons.

Blank pages and redesigns have nothing on sequels.

Last year, we rolled out the new Office icons to show our customers that we’ve evolved our products to support the changing world of work. A world where, despite being more mobile than ever before, social connectedness and collaboration are paramount to success. A world with immense potential for creativity and growth thanks to new flows of information.

Across Microsoft, we’ve worked to help facilitate and enhance these kinds of interactions and experiences. …

Our global journey to rethink, redesign, and align our mobile experiences

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A compilation of redesigned mobiles experiences in Microsoft 365.

In Seattle, an engineer thumbs through a Mumbai-based coworker’s edits while walking between meetings. In rural China, an artisan uses their phone to sell their creations. In Johannesburg, a lawyer texts back a client before catching the bus. These real-life snapshots show the diverse and evolving workflows of today’s 5 billion mobile users worldwide.

In many ways, mobile productivity is still a code waiting to be cracked. Beyond mobile-first and mobile-only markets where necessity mandates it, we can rarely accomplish as much on a phone as we do on our PCs. However, we believe in empowering everyone to be fully productive on any device. …

How we’re pushing collaborative technologies beyond the status quo

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In real life, collaboration is keenly felt; it’s communal, fast, frustrating, fun, and everything in between. In digital products, however, we currently only see collaboration (hello, co-authoring flags!). While that’s still useful, this difference turns a dynamic process into a series of static hand-offs.

At Microsoft Design, we know collaboration to be much more than the visual evidence that someone else has worked on a document. We operate as a close-knit creative collective and work across myriad geographies, so we know firsthand the importance of understanding, supporting, and enhancing digital collaboration processes.

To build more dynamic collaborative experiences across Microsoft 365, we’ve focused on thoughtful creation points to help people foster meaningful and organic connections, build on each other’s ideas, and carry creative momentum forward. …

How we’re crafting Dark Mode experiences across Microsoft 365 that adapt to your daily flow

A woman holding a cell phone with Dark Mode enabled.
A woman holding a cell phone with Dark Mode enabled.

People often think of Dark Mode as a choice between a black or white screen, but this feature involves a wide spectrum of both grayscale and color gradients.

It’s an apt metaphor for why we love Dark Mode: human needs unfold across an equally broad spectrum. Whether you want to reduce eye strain, improve battery life, or it just has aesthetic appeal, Dark Mode exemplifies our ability to craft simple and powerful Microsoft 365 experiences that give you choice and flexibility.

Customer choice was why we first brought a darker UI theme to desktop apps in Office 2010, and we’ve brought it to more Microsoft experiences, like Teams, ever since due to its popularity. …

Design is becoming the heart and soul of Office. Learn how we evolved our visual identity to reflect the simple, powerful, and intelligent experiences of Office 365.

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Whoever said that nothing is more intimidating than the blank page probably never faced a redesign.

The last time we updated the Microsoft Office icons was in 2013, when selfies were new enough to become Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year and emojis were new enough to be considered buzzworthy.

Clearly, a lot has changed since then — including how people get things done.

Over 1 billion people from vastly different industries, geographies, and generations use Office. They work on different platforms and devices and in environments that are faster, more distracting, and more connected than ever before.

To support this changing world of work, Office is transforming into a collaborative suite that lets you work together in real-time from almost any device. We’ve infused our tools with powerful AI: you can get insights from data with less effort, write a paper using your voice, or make your resume using LinkedIn insights. We’ve also added totally new apps to the suite like our AI-powered meetings and chat service, Microsoft Teams. In the end, it’s great design that makes these experiences fluid and seamless. …

How we evolved the Microsoft Office 365 user experience to support a more simple, powerful, and intelligent suite of connected products

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The spectrum of work and ideas that Microsoft Office supports is diverse beyond imagination.

That’s not hyperbole; it’s simply what happens when over a billion people use Office across vastly different industries, disciplines, geographies, and generations. People trust Office to help manage trillions of dollars of global business as much as they trust us to help with their child’s homework.

For Microsoft Design, our biggest challenge and our biggest reward is that our audience is quite literally everyone.

An audience of this size brings into laser focus the universal need for simple, powerful tools that help people stay focused amid an increasingly crazy world. Office has always offered a powerful set of tools with a wide range of useful features. Through refreshed UX, we make that power even more accessible with simple designs that use AI to supercharge a diverse range of ideas and workflows. …

About

Jon Friedman

Head of Microsoft Office design, leading the next generation of experiences for work & life. Opinions expressed here are my own, even the few good ones;-)

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