DayPath Journal

Bill Flora and Erik Rath: The Microsoft Design Language

Bill Flora - The Microsoft Design Language from CreativeMornings/Seattle on Vimeo.

I’ve just seen Bill Flora on Seattle’s Creative Mornings talking about the origins of arguably one the most revolutionary user experience design systems in the history of software: the Microsoft Design Language (formerly known as “Metro”). Here are some interesting highlights from the talk:

  • Bill Flora worked at Microsoft for over 19 years.
  • This design revolution at Microsoft was a bottom-up, managing-upwards effort.
  • The revolution began with a version of Windows Media Player.
  • Bill credits Erik Rath as the first person in the world of User Experience Design to use motion graphics to “sell” UI designs to stakeholders.
  • Both Erik and Bill no longer work for Microsoft. Bill is involved with a company called tectonic.

Watching this talk along with Laurent Bugnion’s talk should give a complete introduction to this brave new world that is so very old. It is old because the heart of the design language comes from print. My personal approach to design has been under the influence of print design—specifically typography. For over a decade, I could only attempt (and fail often) to express this print influence through the use of Cascading Style Sheets in the context of Web Development. Now, because of the work of Bill Flora and Erik Rath (and Bill Hill—and Bill Buxton—and others), I have a platform-space that promises to marry the most elegant design philosophy with the most powerful data access tools on the planet.