Building Tapworthy Apps for Windows Phone 7


I’m going to throw you a curve ball right now: if you want to develop apps for Windows Phone 7, one of the must-read books is one written for iPhone developers and designers. It’s Tapworthy, written by Josh Clark and published by O’Reilly.

While Tapworthy was written with people building apps for The Esteemed Competition’s phone in mind, much of it is applicable to WP7 developers and designers. That’s because it’s not about the act of programming, nor is it about marketing phone apps. It’s about creating applications that are useful, usable and delight your users. It’s about good application design, understanding your users’ situation, wants and needs, and what separates “just good enough” from “awesomesauce”. As the book says in its introduction:

You’ll learn how to conceive and refine your app’s design in tune with the needs of a mobile audience—and their fingers and thumbs. Designing a handheld device that works by touch is entirely different from designing any other kind of software interface. Experienced designers and newcomers alike will uncover the shifts in mindset and technique required to craft a great app.

I could write about what I think about Tapworthy, but the folks at Rainy Day Engineering put it so well that I’ll just leave it to them:

If you are about to embark upon designing your first commercial mobile app, stop what you’re doing, buy this book, read it, and then proceed with your design efforts. It will save you countless hours of headaches, frustrations, and dead ends. If you have been building mobile apps for a while and have not had the success you think should be yours, then this book may have some suggestions to help you get better returns on your development dollars. If you are looking to kick up your UI designing game a few notches, then you should stop what you are doing, log on to Amazon, and order a copy immediately. You can certainly read this book from cover to cover in one sitting, but we are certain you will be returning to it again and again.

Tapworthy is a great companion book to the Windows Phone UI Design and Interaction Guide (which you should absolutely download if you’re building WP7 apps). Follow the advice in both books, and you’ll be making WP7 apps that people will want and download. Tapworthy is available in dead-tree or ebook form from O’Reilly; you can also get it from Chapters/Indigo, and

Tapworthy: it’s the Windows Phone 7 book that doesn’t know it’s a Windows Phone 7 book!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.