Ten Pet Peeves of WP7 Applications

February 4, 2011
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I’ve been looking at a lot of applications on the Windows Phone 7 platform since even before launch. It seems that a lot of the apps out there need polish to make them easy to use. I’ve put together my ten top annoyances when trying out new application on my Windows Phone 7.

  1. InputScopes

By far this is most annoying aspect of many Windows Phone 7 applications. Using smart input scopes to help the user enter the right data. Remember that the default input scope on TextBox’s do not offer AutoCorrect.  So at a minimum changing the InputScope to Text will give the user auto-correct options. Using the case-specific InputScopes like EmailSmtpAddress, Chat, Number and FullName can help the user input data.

  1. Ugly Icons

I find many of the applications on the Marketplace to have dreadful icons. This makes your app look amateurish and I don’t want to even try it out. If it looks like you slapped something together, I suspect the code is similar.  I am no artist but I rely on web resources. By far my favorite for icons or other art is  For a couple of dollars you can buy good pictures, icons, vector drawings and even videos. When you go there, remember you can search by keyword and filter by type of image (e.g. vector, photo, etc.)

  1. Splash Screens

Similar to the Ugly Icons, the use of the default splash screen just reeks of lack of detail orientation. If makes me wonder if the app was well designed even before I use it.  A common approach if you don’t want to go the art route (like I suggested in #2), is to just do a splash screen of your starting screen to give the user the idea of what the app will look like when launched. A great implementation of this is in the Beezz Twitter app.

  1. Haptic Feedback

When you have small buttons you should remember that the user may not be able to see what he/she is touching on the screen. Using haptic feedback is crucial in these ways to tell the user they actually did something. You don’t want to over-do it, but a short VibrationController action will tell the user that you’ve acknowledged what they’ve done; this is especially true if the action requires a wait (e.g. a network call).

  1. Portrait and Landscape Views

Too many applications only work in portrait mode. Remember that with phones with keyboards that it is common to slide out the keyboard to use the application. Don’t be lazy, make it work in all orientations.

  1. Black Backgrounds

The Metro style is fine, but white text on a black background gets tiresome and doesn’t differentiate your application. Using a background image that brands your application goes a long way to spit and polish.

  1. Touch Point Size

Remember that not all phones are the HD7 with a 4.3" screen.  Also, remember that not all users have dainty fingers; some have Shrek-sized hands so that making your touch points small is a hindrance in an application.  The Metro suggestion of 34 pixels of a minimum touch point and I think that’s a pretty valid size.

  1. Smart Font Sizing

Like #7 above, remember that your phone isn’t the only size phone. Using small fonts is a problem. When the user wants to be able to read the text, it must be readable on even the smallest devices.  Also remember, that not all users are equally sighted.  This becomes more true the older I get ;)

  1. Trial or Lite Version

If you charge for you application, I won’t buy it sight-unseen. I know its only .99 but there are a lot of applications and that adds up.  There are a lot of app developers discussing how useful the Trial API is as doesn’t expose your application in the ‘free’ area which seems to help get apps installed.  So either a Trial application or a “Lite” version in the Free area would make me want to try it.  Screen shots aren’t indicative of app quality.

  1. Landing Page

Finally, make your landing page of your app the main work area for your application. If I have to go to a landing page them tap again to get at the meat of the app, I’ll get tired of this very quickly.  Seesmic is the most glaring example of this. Fewer taps==better UX (generalization, I know).

What are your pet peeves with apps on the phone?