Microsoft’s Fluid Design Guidelines are for Developers, not Designers
It has been two months, I am reading rumours about Microsoft’s Neon project - new design language for Windows. Leaked screenshots and media hype was so impactful, that designers were curious and eager to get eyes on the new UI.
Finally they have published it for developers and designers recently.
First impression is absolutely awesome. I personally was flattered by looking at acrylic backgrounds and font variations. I visited the website and to my surprise the landing page started with “An eloquent design system for a complex world” which calls designers and developers to join Microsoft in building a design evolution. My curiosity peaked.
Next section talked about how the experience should be sensory and how we can co-create it. I agreed. Next to it they defined the basic design aspects and consideration like Light, Depth, Motion, Motion, Material and Scale. Literally no information about, what they are doing with it. UX designers are well aware about this information, I personally was expecting an eye opening approach towards all those parameters. 40% of the landing page is just dedicated for design team and their thoughts on new design.
Being a real user, my eyes were continuously searching for the Design guidelines and Design tool kit. Where is the important “Stuff” for me?
I scrolled up and looked at the top right corner one word “Build” clicked on it and boom…… I am directed to old webpage of Microsoft UWP guideline repository.
I went through all the sections of guideline one by one to just have look and understand the new design language.
Believe me, none of the sections is having graphics, image or animation to show how the design should look and behave. In case of layout, device dimensions they have used few images but that too, not so helpful for designers.
Being user of the website, expecting design communication to include illustrations, Screenshots, Animation is not a crime.
Each and every section of the design guideline just have Text, text and text.
We can afford to have the text but not the contents which is mainly focussed for developers and the not the designers.
The next area of my interest was to have look at the Design toolkit. Till date Microsofts design toolkit was so poor that it just included the basic UI elements, scattered around the file.
Fluent Design toolkit was the least expected thing out of complete Design Communication, but there also Microsoft is miserably failed. The Read me note in the toolkit says “Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information provided here.”
I ignored the Readme PDF file and opened the sketch file. There are two separate kits for Dark and Light themes. Kit is nothing but collection of UI elements. It doesn't include any information of margins, dimensions and layouts. I am now confused what to do with those elements???
On other side, If I look at the Google’s Material Design Kit, it includes the information about device specific layouts, Keylines and Metrics, Use of elements on device interface. It is one place for almost all the information.
Windows apps and devices have evolved in short period, reference points for UWP design are very rare. Also, Windows doesn't provide all the standard icons to be used on the interface. I personally struggled a lot for Windows 10 UI elements and finally got from here
It’s an irony, Fluent design communication is focussed on development not on the design mainly. Just saying “join Microsoft in building a design evolution” is not going to work. Understanding the needs of the designers is important.
I have expressed my thoughts, please correct me, if I am wrong with the perception of Fluent design communication.