This story goes back to 2008 when I began to look for a new mp3 music player. At the time, I had a fairly basic Samsung mp3 player, and was ready for an upgrade. So I saved my money and purchased a Microsoft Zune 8GB player. I loved the device. It was, in my opinion, the competing iPod’s superior in many ways: namely its sound quality, hardware specs, radio capabilities, wi-fi, and most noticeably in software user interface. The use of typography and motion were fascinating to me, and they drew me to one of the first devices to use Microsoft’s new interface, “Modern UI,” formerly known as Metro UI.
As I grew accustomed to the music player, the Zune’s software intrigued me further. Using the four-way-touch directional pad to navigate the clean looking menus to access content was fun and interesting. The Zune software application on my Windows computer was also a joy to use. I found it to be less clunky and less of a ghastly spreadsheet layout that iTunes had. Zune’s software focused on motion, typography, icons and images, and brought the content to the user first.
When I learned a new touch screen Zune was coming out in 2009 in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacity, my excitement grew. Not only did it have features like HD radio, HD video-out, internet browsing and unlimited music streaming, but it also bolstered an enriched Zune user interface built for touch-screen capabilities. Again, I saved my money and during November, purchased a 16GB Zune HD, my favorite MP3 player to date.
While I enjoyed using the Zune’s interface to browse my media collection, including music, videos, pictures, radio and games, I saw it as something that could do even more. The Zune’s interface that would become Microsoft’s Modern UI had an incredible amount of potential. That’s why when I heard rumors of an upcoming Zune Phone, I got very excited. Finally, my favorite software combined with something I’d use every day? The very thought of it was enticing. Microsoft had my money at that very moment.
It turned out, however, that the rumor was only partially true. The “Zune Phone” later became revealed as a completely overhauled version of Windows Mobile 6.5, which was the current phone software Microsoft sold at the time. Not much was revealed about it in early 2010, except it would release later that year, and it was called Windows Phone 7 Series. This was the first product to officially make use of the Modern User Interface.
When it was finally released as Windows Phone, Microsoft’s new mobile platform was relatively well-received as a new alternative to iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry. Even in its early stages of development, the Windows Phone UI featured typography, motion, and an emphasis on content that the Zune interface had initially inspired. As soon as my birthday came along, I purchased an LG Quantum Windows Phone for the Black Friday sale’s price of $0.99.
The result? I became an early-adopting fan of the Modern UI interface. I love how it looked, how it worked, and what it produced. I began to look into the interface and attempting to find Microsoft’s inspiration for the design elements of Modern UI, and the principles of that design. Why colorful tiles? What about the motion of the transitions between backing out of an app and opening an app was so appealing? Why was simple typography used? How was content such a primary ingredient in the design? And lastly, how did the combination of all of these elements create such an enticing, beautiful interface?
I began to add people on social networks that shared my passion for Microsoft products and their new software. Once I learned that Microsoft’s next laptop/desktop operating system, Windows 8, would be sporting the same interface I had learned to love, I grew even more excited. I began to create themes and background wallpapers that were my own interpretations of Modern UI, including creating a custom Twitter background. I even revamped my resume to adopt principles of Modern UI such as cleanness, simplicity, and the use of icons and typography.
When an event in Seattle promoting an update for Windows Phone was announced, I was eager to go. Little did I know that my Twitter and Foursquare activity would get me noticed. While I attended the event, I uploaded pictures, posted tweets, and engaged in more social-networking activities. I was simply sharing my excitement with my online community.
About three weeks later, I got an email from someone who worked at Sela Software, asking me if I could give him a call and if I was interested in Microsoft’s design language. When I did get around to calling him, I asked him how he found me. He said that a Microsoft employee saw one of my many tweets, and he noticed I had a passion for Modern UI and saw my Modern UI-themed Twitter background.
The call was unexpected, but pretty exciting. After a while, he asked me if I wanted to design some websites for him, and I would get paid to create some Modern-style UI sites. I said I had some experience in web design, and that I would gladly do the job. So after a few Skype calls with him and a member of Sela’s marketing team, I began to design this website: http://www.diamond-program.com/. A bit later, as I was perfecting my own website (http://davidvkimball.com/), he noticed and asked me to make another website for him: http://www.developer-staffing.com/.
All in all, it has made me happy to pursue something I’m passionate about and even to be sought after for it. I don’t know for sure what the future holds for me, but I hope it’s with technology, and design and user interface are certainly skills I’d love to master.