I’m not sure I understand the position that many (including MS insiders) are taking, saying that Metro will not be for LoB applications.
I think we’re actually going to head into a different class of applications, where we redefine what LoB means. I think we’ll see less and less of lists, grids and data dumps and move towards a place where we introduce context, history and action.
And I would argue that the Metro UI is the perfect place for this.
Here’s a screenshot from an LoB application I designed 2 years ago. The views were built in XAML. Please pay no mind to the cheesy rounded corners and glossy buttons, it was 2 years ago :).
This is the screen a helpdesk technician would see when they “take” a call from the queue. It’s integrated into the VoIP system. It’s already run some background tests (see: “No Internet Access”). It allows the tech a chance to gauge the customers’ mood (based on previous satisfaction surveys/time on hold/technical ability), confirm the contact details of the caller and then take some relevant action. If you take a look at it, there is quite a bit of data packed in, but it’s all in context. It’s by no means a Metro style but it doesn’t look anything like a typical LoB app either and the user experience is quite different.
They didn’t start with a search, the data was ready based on context.
They didn’t start with a list of tickets and survey results, the information was visualized.
They didn’t surf through the “chrome” of application menus, relevant actions were presented.
There is no reason that an app running in Metro can’t be connected, integrated and contextual - in fact I think this will be the trend - and it’s not a far leap from the above to something that fits that style.
These kinds of concepts should be more prevalent in LoB applications, IMO. I’m not sure why they’re not. I’ve previously argued that we’ve trained users to expect ugly software (grids, lists, buttons, menus), which in turn has cultivated analysts and designers who ask developers to make more of the same.
The thing that excites me about Metro is the opportunity we have to reinvent the whole thing, maybe even take some risks.
So, why can’t we change our perception of what an LoB application can be, and why can’t we develop them in Metro?
Necessity is the mother of innovation, so let’s put ourselves in need. The next time you go to draft a UI up, throw out the grid, throw out text-only lists and try to think about what user is doing when they will be looking at that screen. Craft your actions as something that happens in context to what the user will do. These are the kinds of excercises that will help us bend our minds around designing for Metro.
And, maybe, if we act like we don’t have the old tools, we’ll be forced to create something that changes the game.