Behance on your Windows Phone
View for Behance is a Behance app which is designed and built to offer an enriching and native experience on Windows Phone. It was conceptualised and developed for lack of an official native app for Windows Phone.
It was April 2014 and I was a Windows Phone user back then. I always found it cumbersome to browse Behance on my device. There was (is) no official app in the Store nor there were any good third party alternatives. Browsing Behance on Internet Explorer was not a good way either (It was slow, believe me). There was not a single app which could provide a native experience. Internet Explorer was all you could use to browse Behance, but it was a slow and frustrating experience.
I set out with this goal in mind - Designing an app which would help users in their Behance browsing experience on Windows Phone. I started my research with competitive audit. Since there were no good third party alternatives in Windows Phone Store then, I tried Google Play Store and iOS App Store. There were some apps built using the official Behance API, but none of them were providing exclusive features to their users. Apart from the usual Behance experience, none of them was offering something truly unique which could enhance the Behance browsing experience. I knew that all I wanted was to a seamless Behance experience on Windows Phone, but then I did not want to add another brick in the wall. If I am going to design an app, I am going to do it better by aiding the users in achieving their goals. Only then I can compete with other apps in the future.
I checked the official Behance API page to explore what is currently being offered. Almost everything you could do on Behance website like uploading a project, appreciating a project, following creatives, etc. was there in the API. Although after a few days, the endpoint for login was nowhere to be found. When I asked the support, they said that they were transitioning to Adobe ID and I would have to use Adobe’s Creative SDK for implementing login. Unfortunately that SDK is only available for iOS, Android and Web. The only limit I could find was the number of API request calls which were 150 per hour against a user device (which I thought was a no big deal).
I mostly follow the Subject + Objects + Verbs approach which I got to know about by Arturo Toledo in his 24 Weeks of Windows Phone Metro Design Blog Series for generating ideas, but since this app would be a third party app based on an existing Website, I already knew which features I would add to the app. Appreciating a project, sharing projects, uploading works in progress, following a creative, etc. were some of the features in my add-to-app list. These features were inevitable for a complete Behance experience, since this is what a user would want when logging on to Behance.net. Two new use cases came out in my informal research -
Initially I wanted to use panorama control for the home page. But later on I found that panorama is not good for holding large amount of content. It is great for a few pieces of information not for long lists of content. But I had designed some screens by then.
There was so much information in a limited space. If I had continued with anyone of these screens, there would be too much cognitive load while interacting with them.
After several iterations, I came up with this
and again created quick prototypes for validation.
One of the design principles of Metro Design Language (MDL) is "Do more with less" which emphasises on content before chrome. It enforces to be visually focused and direct. I followed this principle right from the beginning of visual design process. It made sure that people are immersed in the content and not get distracted by the chrome. Right after you launch the app, you get immersed in the projects which consist of beautiful thumbnails, name and the number of appreciations. This complexion reduction visualisation method has been used throughout the app.
I tried to mimic the original tap and hold interaction menu from official Behance iOS app, but due to technical constraints I ended up with the above share menu. Also added a Go To Top button in case a user wants to check other projects in the same creative field without scrolling up when she is already at the bottom of the current project. The search experience definitely needed to be efficient and engaging. So I tried to make sure filters are easily accessible and users do not have to waste time jumping back and forth to search and result pages.
The app was very well received by the community, though there were things that I could have done better. I overdid the customisation. Although users liked the overall app design, there were some users who got confused with the customised page layout.
Consistency is a vital part of a good design. I used two different types of sharing menu for tap and hold interaction, one for projects and one for works in progress. I was wrong, only one was sufficient. Also, the creative profile page was different from the rest of the pages. Realized the mistake and updated it to make it more consistent with the rest of the app.
Nevertheless, the app got featured on Gizmodo in This Week’s Best Android, iPhone, iPad, and Windows Phone Apps, Windows (formerly knows as Nokia Discussions) in 5 favourite new Windows Phone apps of the week, WindowsCentral and was placed in the spotlight section of the Windows Phone Store by Microsoft numerous times.
And some reviews. This is what keeps us going. I still try to respond to each user review.