Is Microsoft learning basic principles of Usability?

Corrina Black, lead designer for the Silverlight platform, presents usability principles implementation in the newest Silverlight 3. She is focused very much on design, so no coding best practices will be heard here. Only good advices on how to create an appealing, easy to understand interface.

Mix09 Usability

She started by stating the design principles and explain them. Once the conceptual base was established, she pointed out by showing some examples of themes and designs that can be created with the newest XAML editor, Blend and how easy is to switch between them. A question that she failed to answer both in the presentation and on the official Mix page of the presentation was a suggestion on about how to switch on runtime (or based on some user preferences / profile) between the available themes.

Another key points in her presentation were:

  • design patterns supported by controls: data grid, expanding panels, data navigator, graphs;
  • auto generation of a sample dataset based on user selected fields, helping designers to be more efficient and not wait for real databases;
  • errors are prevented by constraining user to input only correct data, being signaled when he inputted wrong data;
  • the controls affords users to input correct data by suggesting some possible answers from an autocompleted customizable list and guiding him in case of complex and cultural dependant inputs, like date picker;
  • graphs that are easy to implement and give a quick view on the data.