[Guest Blogger] What I learned at MIX07: Microsoft cares about Designers!

Bernie Aho, Product Manager and Co-Founder of ConceptShare Inc.

Some time has passed since MIX 07 in April and a lot of us have had some time to digest the mountain of new announcements and try out some of the new software. One of the most interesting things to me was that Microsoft has really started caring about designers.

I have served as a Product Manager for several years however; I am also a multimedia designer and have always seemed to take on the user experience and core look and feel for each of the companies and products that I worked on. I have worked for 3 great companies and worked with over 100 developers in different capacities ranging from PhD’s to young whiz kids. The consistent thing has always been a Microsoft development environment on either Windows or in the last few years ASP.NET web development. That is at least from a development standpoint.

Design and user experience has always be done in my experience using professional graphic applications, rich media tools and professional web design/development tools that are targeted to the designer workflow or at least a designer mode. These tools were almost always not Microsoft tools which made workflow difficult and almost impossible to ever share projects properly from a web standpoint. The designer had their tools and files and the developers had theirs. Expression seems poised to change that.

Designers will probably always need their “own” tools but what if they could use the same project files and things that the designer needs to update get updated and vice versa from the developer. What if you could layout using a tool and the developers could add code to the layout easily. Both could and are able to produce and manage rich content with the same code set. This is the promise of the Expression suite of tools.

Some of the best moments from MIX 07 were in the self demonstration area where people could experience the all the tools loaded on the using tutorials and receive guidance from the people that built the software themselves. There were usually hordes of designers and developers alike and you could literally sit and watch things being created by pro designers using Blend that have never seen it before after a very brief tutorial.

I think everyone who develops already on Microsoft Platform should let their designers and developers give the new tools a whirl as we are doing. The workflow potential is worth it alone.


Bernie Aho is the Product Manager and Co-Founder of ConceptShare Inc., a web-based design collaboration solution developed in ASP.NET and Flash. Bernie is the lead user experience and interface designer for ConceptShare and has over 10 years experience designing around Microsoft platform development for PC and web applications. Bernie is a frequent speaker and panelist on the topics of design, usability and entrepreneurship.