B2C: Microsoft / Desktop Application

Microsoft asked Involution to help them take on Adobe

Microsoft

The redesign transformed the original Microsoft design – which dedicated under 40% of screen real estate to what the user wanted to see – to over 90%.

With Expression Studio, Microsoft set off on the challenge to enter the market for software professionals dominated by Adobe. Perhaps not surprisingly, their early versions of the product were not well-received, a combination of the difficulty of fighting Adobe’s dominant market share and the pitfalls and rough edges of releasing a complex new product outside of the company’s competencies. Identifying the interface design as one of the key areas for improvement Microsoft turned to Involution.

Microsoft wanted to take a “bottom-up” approach to a full redesign for the launch of Expression Studio 3, having Involution design what they expected to be the hottest new feature of the suite, SuperPreview. Microsoft asked Involution to redesign this major feature with an eye toward creating design patterns and standards that Microsoft could implement and expand through the entire product.

Buoyed by user research and insight into the complex nature of the problem, Involution took the original Microsoft designs for SuperPreview and turned the design philosophy on its head. Recognizing that what users really cared about was their viewable space Involution created a smart, tools-based approach to the UI that kept all of the powerful features and functions of SuperPreview easily available, while enabling the user to naturally have 90% of the screen real estate dedicated to their use cases. This distinguished SuperPreview as a premium feature from the first time it was previewed, and helped lead the internal Microsoft team on their broader redesign.

Taking a more traditional UI approach, Microsoft’s original design for SuperPreview was heavy on the tools, light on the workspace.

Taking a more traditional UI approach, Microsoft’s original design for SuperPreview was heavy on the tools, light on the workspace.

Pencil and paper is the best way to explore ideas and iterate quickly.

Pencil and paper is the best way to explore ideas and iterate quickly.

With many use cases and screen states to consider we carefully worked through all of the permutations to make a design that worked.

With many use cases and screen states to consider we carefully worked through all of the permutations to make a design that worked.

We prototyped the design to validate that the user experience in actual use was exemplary.

We prototyped the design to validate that the user experience in actual use was exemplary.

The devil is in the details, and the key to this very streamlined-yet-robust interaction model was lovingly crafted, hand-drawn illustrations.

The devil is in the details, and the key to this very streamlined-yet-robust interaction model was lovingly crafted, hand-drawn illustrations.

When you add it all together you have an attractive, highly usable and useful app.

When you add it all together you have an attractive, highly usable and useful app.

Services

  • Product Strategy
  • Product Architecture
  • User Interface Design
“A Web site developer’s new best friend?” Mary-Jo Foley, ZDNet ZDNet logo
“The biggest of Expression Web’s add-ons is the SuperPreview feature.” Digital Arts Online Digital Arts Online logo
“4.5 stars of of 5” Sue Chastain, About.com Guide About.com logo