Microsoft may have helped usher in the trend of “flat” elements in UI with Metro, all the way back in the Zune days, and Google’s take with several pieces of the Android 4.0 experiences had more than a passing resemblance. However, more recently, Google’s manifestation of the principles are evolving, taking some cues from Facebook and Pinterest. Particularly impressive is the information density that they’ve been able to achieve, while maintaining whitespace, cleanliness, and organization. Take a look at Google+.
And, so, as part of design feedback’s cyclical nature, I’m seeing hints of a similar evolution in Microsoft’s recently announced products, over the past couple days. First came the MSN Preview, ushering in a completely new design and information organization scheme. It includes fantastic ties into the cloud-connected experiences I already use on my Windows Phone. For example, the stocks I follow, added to the
Bing MSN Finance app on my phone, show up on the MSN portal, automatically.
Second, Office Delve, launched earlier today, is all about using information and relationships discovered via the Office Graph to surface relevant content and information (primarily in the form of documents and SharePoint content, from what I can tell). Think of it as Google Now, but for your work content. Not only that, its design and organization are similar, as well.
I, for one, quite like the card-like designs that are popping up. The content chunks reflow well for both large, multi-format displays (everything from 16:9 notebooks to 4:3 iPads, as examples) and smaller, portrait displays, like those found on smartphones. The cards are self-contained entities that give the user enough information and quick-action hooks to either dive deeper or move on.