The origin of the Metro UI design language


In a neat little historical post over at the site Project Metro, the origins of the Metro UI design language are given some detail. What makes it interesting is the information came from a Microsoft presentation on the topic at an early "Behind the Tiles" event.

We won't steal all of their thunder from the fun little read, so we'll just tease you with a bit of it:

"The whole idea started with the Swiss Movement in the 1960′s. They wanted a way to communicate to people through design, while being different yet direct. What was born from this movement was the font, Helvetica. It was the first simplistic yet sophisticated design font that delivered a clear and precise message. Microsoft knew with the rise of Apple and Android that they needed to make a change. They needed to be different but also wanted a clearer way to deliver its message..."

Very interesting stuff, especially about the use of Helvetica and Segoe fonts (Windows Phone uses a slight variation called Segoe WP). Personally, we'd like someday to see a detailed history of the evolution of Metro UI through Microsoft (we've seen some early iterations in Media Center, then through Zune to Windows Mobile 6.5 and up to Windows Phone 7).

Source: Project Metro


Reader comments

The origin of the Metro UI design language


I've written my bachelor's thesis about the Metro design language.
It was a very interesting topic, but sadly it's written in German, so won't be very useful to wpcentral :)

lol, Well the correct (whole) phrase would be "Ich spreche ein bisschen Deutsch" – "I speak a little German". But I guess people understood what you meant ;)

The 'Metro Design Language' originates from Information Design used in signage for public transport. The rise of Helvetica (and Swiss design in general) was apart of the information design trend to provide clear information through glyphs in order to communicate effficiently without confusion whatever language you speak or culture you are apart of. http://www.helveticasubway.com

Another example of 'Metro design' is when Margaret Calvert improved upon the Kinneir system of signage in the UK to make all signs uniform and simpler to understand by using shapes and colours. http://designmuseum.org/design/jock-kinneir-margaret-calvert