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One of the biggest discussions I started getting into when Windows Phone development was announced to the world was sparked with this single question I posed to our internal Windows Phone developer teams:

What is the use case for when you would want to use a Pano versus Pivot application layout?

I asked this in the context of an application for Yelp that I was writing.  Information was similar but not identical.  It was only similar in the sense that the data was all about user reviews and venues.  In my eyes I saw this like the fact that games are similar in that they are games, but their individual information (the play) is different.

I guess I was expecting a definitive or clear view on when to use either given my use case I presented.  I laughed as I collected numerous various viewpoints from all areas of the dev platform folks.  It was clear there was no clarity for me.  I actually have saved the most concise definition the discussion generated and had been wanting to blog about it for a while.

Today, Jaime released a bunch of videos from a ‘design days’ event that was held in Redmond for Windows Phone developers.  They are all great, but there was one that caught my eye: Windows Phone Design Days – Pivot and Pano.  In this video a few UX researchers walk through some of the key tenets of each control.  Here’s some of my mental notes:

Pivot

  • Application view manager
  • Filter same data on different views (the “inbox” is a great example of this)
  • Optimized for current screen size
  • Filter of data doesn’t have to be same view (agenda/day)
  • Related content is ok to pivot on as long as related content is truly related
  • Focused

Panorama

  • Horizontal broad canvas, not confined to current screen size
  • A ‘top layer’ view into underlying experiences/tasks
  • Exploratory in nature
  • Don’t use if you need an application bar
  • Don’t have a pano that takes the user to a pivot control constantly
  • Leverage things inherently interesting (use ‘about me’ type information)
  • Never place a pano *in* a pivot

There was some good information in this video (like don’t use pivot/pano for wizard-based UI) and one of the better descriptions/examples of answering my root question.  The other videos are great and I encourage you to take a look at them.

I’d encourage you to take a look at all of these videos to get a good sense on some of the user experience research done for Windows Phone developers and how you can learn to target a great experience in your app/game.


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