In preparation for a busy fall conference season, I’ve been furiously testing, retesting then codifying the methods I used to help brands prototype their Windows 8 app experiences. Afterwards each process trick gets a photo shoot (I’m not the best photographer, but the tripod helps). Once I’ve paid the ideas due process, I can start putting them to words. What follows is a quick trick I discovered while tinkering with content proportioning.
Proportion is almost always referenced as; the rule of thirds, golden ratio, golden mean, golden number…apparently anything beginning with ‘golden’ will do. Windows 8 has already baked the rule of thirds right into the pie filling with OS functionality like Snap view. So I look at proportion in app design by its basic definition: relative size. Relationship of each piece to one another, like folding a sheet of paper in half and half the half, etc…
Prototyping content sizing and placement is an action that comes early in the process but after you’ve decided the goals of the app and the coordinating user scenarios. Relative sizing choices come from that clarity. And once you understand users’ priorities you can then give those back to them visually with the experience. I call that empathy, but it’s simply facilitating great UX.
I found that the easiest way to play with content layout and variety is with Post-it notes. Here I’ve printed out the gridded tablet sheet (steal it here) and cut the standard 3 by 3 inch Post-it in descending sizes. This configuration could be used for a piece of featured or new content with its related companions clustered around it. Of course, this is just one way to express a content group. Experiment liberally as a reminder that visual variety and playful content flows are a key piece of a great app.