Microsoft Design
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Microsoft Design

Delight in the Details

When big 3D experiences call for small UX moments

A great inspirational poster hanging on a wall near our workspace once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”(Thank you, Charles Eames, for your wisdom and chairs.)

Too often, details are overlooked in feature development until someone inevitably wonders: “And what are we doing to delight our users?” Here, a collective groan will likely emit from motion designers, UX writers, sound designers, or other “details” designers everywhere.

The subtle motion that guides the user to where they need to be; the audio effect that perfectly accompanies what’s happening in the experience; the encouraging copy that appears right when the person on the other side of the screen needs it… these are the “delightful” (and highly strategic) moments that help turn lofty product goals into real, useful products.

UX writing for 3D

I’m a content experience designer working on Microsoft’s 3D experiences in Windows 10. Right now, those experiences include Paint 3D, one of the easiest ways out there to create in three dimensions; View 3D, an app that not only lets you view 3D models in your screen, but also put them into your real world with a new Mixed Reality feature; and, an online community for 3D content discovery and portfolio-building.

Across these experiences, our goal as a team has been to design 3D for everyone. And a lot of what it means to take that goal and manifest it in our products relies on giving weight to the details.

For me, that means writing crisp, clear, and inspirational UI copy that encourages people of all skill levels to try out features in 3D.

Rather than ask a 3D novice to create a “3D extrusion,” let’s invite them to add depth to a doodle.

Instead of prompting a user to download an FBX file and edit it with 3D software, let’s teach them how to “remix” a 3D model right in Paint 3D.

Let’s guide people through the new world of augmented reality with the help of real-life examples, coaching them to drop a 3D model onto their desk, into their hand, or next to a friend.

Inclusive design = good design

With the goal of designing 3D for everyone comes the responsibility to always have an eye on the details that enable all kinds of people, with various abilities, backgrounds, and skills, to create.

For our developers, that means providing interaction models that include touch, mouse, keyboard, and pen. For our visual designers, it’s staying aware of what our UI elements will look like in high-contrast mode. For me, that means listening to narrator as it reads to our visually-impaired users, and making sure the experience is great and inviting to everyone.

Of course, all of these details are never done.

By working with Microsoft’s user research team to share our designs with real people, digging into usage data around certain buttons, tips, and experiences out in the wild, and just asking the people around me if they understand what the heck I’m trying to say — democratizing 3D will continue to face challenging UX hurdles. And it will take serious attention to the details, as well as clarity about the big picture, to bring the third dimension to life.

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Stories from the thinkers and tinkerers at Microsoft. Sharing sketches, designs, and everything in between.

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