2009 ... 2012
During my 3 years at Microsoft, I was deeply embedded in the inspiring UX Design Studio for Windows Phone, which was run at the time by Albert Shum. In my role, I managed a team of Design Program Managers. Our charter was to oversee the operations of the Design Studio, ensure timely completion of all UX deliverables, and drive a Design-Led product development process for Windows Phone's Metro Design Language.
Our innovative design language, Metro, challenged mobile OS norms and won several accolades for its innovation and fresh approach to user experience, including the IDEA 2011 People’s Choice Award.
I joined the team at an interesting inflection point. They had recently made a pitch to Windows Mobile's Engineering Leadership, outlining their vision for the future of User Experience Design on mobile devices. While still in its infancy, Metro (as the language came to be know) instantly resonated with the bulk of the organization and put things in motion for a major internal cultural shift at Microsoft that would play out in varying speeds and forms over the coming decade.
One of the first hurdles I had to undertake in my new role was working to get individual PMs and Engineers to not just go along with the changes afoot, but to get them excited about the opportunities that Metro presented for us, for our users, for the business overall. This meant long conversations about topics like the value of knowing when to ship code and when to toss it, or the importance of software not just performing but also being usable and desirable.
At the time, Engineering ruled nearly all decision-making in the broader Mobile organization, and Designers were treated primarily as pixel-pushers. So, transitioning into a landscape where software is Design-Led did not come easily for everyone. To the credit and support of many many wonderful people across a vast span of disciplines, we eventually were able ensure that Design (UX and Visual Designers, Design Leads, Design PMs, Design Researchers, Design Engineers) had equal seating at the strategy and planning tables. This was achieved through hard work and continually proving ourselves through our ability to execute beautiful and innovative experiences.
The outcome of this labor was seen not just in the designs we ultimately shipped as core to the completely reimagined Windows Phone experience, but with internal organizational changes that rippled through Microsoft in the years that followed. Our studio established foundational processes for Design, bringing rigor and validity to our work not seen prior and transitioning an entire organization through an important cultural transformation.
The Windows Phone Design team during my time was responsible for creating a holistic, end-to-end user experience for a new platform that was getting gutted and rebuilt from the bottom up. We defined every interaction, established performance requirements from the lens of users, and established the look and feel. We validated our work by leveraging a robust partnership with User Research, and I worked collaboratively across our Studio to make certain every designer was kept afloat of decisions, solutions to challenging design problems, UX commonalities and more regarding their work and that of their peers so we were certain to execute on a holistically cohesive experience. 
A central organizing tool we used heavily to align teams in the Studio and across all levels of Engineering was to share regularly and often about the Metro backstory coupled with a clear set of design principles and execution examples. We choose specific, important "Hero" moments to showcase the best of the Design system, but also took pains to define and build a rich set of common controls (UX elements, animations, layouts, behaviors) that could be leveraged at any step in the user journey. 
The exact wording for our principles evolved over the years, but at the core these formed the basis for all our Metro Design Language came to represent:
Clean, Light, Open, Fast
Celebrate Typography
Alive in Motion
Content not Chrome
Authentically Digital
This wasn't just another phone. We wanted to make THE most beautiful, responsive, dynamic, and personal phone experience ever imagined.... We had to. The market was already saturated. You could say it was our Hail Mary, but those are my thoughts only.
While Windows Phone didn't sustain the commercial success we all had hoped for, it undoubtedly made a huge impact on User Experience Design across the entirety of the tech & mobile industry. It unflinchingly challenged every skeuomorphic norm that was so prominent in the market, at the time. Even today, Metro continues to influence design. Just this morning, I read an article about Bento box layouts that harkened back to Windows Phone as the beginning of this trend.
More About the Role
Built & fostered a deep level of trust & support from cross-functional partners. 
Received an “Engineering Excellence” award for my contributions (the only member of the Design Studio to receive one, that year)
Shipped multiple product releases and updates across a variety of hardware platforms. 
12 patents (8 issued, 4 filed) - e.g. for our "Start" Screen design, Multi-tasking and App switching design, etc.
Presentations on Metro UX and Designing Apps with Metro at MIX 2011 and at USER EXPERIENCE RUSSIA 2011.
Mix 2011
Mix 2011
User Experience 2011, Moscow, Russia
User Experience 2011, Moscow, Russia
User Experience 2011, Moscow, Russia
User Experience 2011, Moscow, Russia
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