We're digging into the Windows 8 App Challenge all this week. Today let's talk about how to think effectively about your project idea and find some great technical resources to get you going!

A great app starts with great design. When planning your app, think less about what features you want to include and more about what experience you want to provide your users. Think carefully about what you want your users to be able to do with your app, and then use those user goals to guide you through the rest of the design process. It’s a good idea at this stage of the app design process to also think about how your app fits into a business model. What’s your plan for revenue – will the app be ad-funded? Pay-for-download? Will you have in-app purchases? These considerations are critical for the Topic Definition and Business Viability portion of the judging criteria. In short, how will your app drive a successful business?

Once you’ve worked out your design and you know what you want your users to be able to do in your app, think about the unique aspects of the Windows 8 platform which you can use to enable your user goals and enhance the user experience of your app. What useful notifications can you send to your users through toasts, lock screen notifications, and live tile updates to improve their experience with your app and pull them back in? How can you use the Share contract to share data to and from your app? How might the Live SDK help you with storing and sharing data in your app, or connecting your users to their friends?

The Windows Dev Center has a ton of resources for you to use, so get started right here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/apps/br229512. From this page you can get to developer downloads, listings for local dev events to get in-person help and guidance, a comprehensive design guide, sample apps and code samples, and much more. Bookmark that page because you'll want to come back to it again and again.

Finally, let me wish you good luck with your project and have fun coding!

Jura Clapman
Windows 8 App Challenge Captain
Microsoft Windows 8 Team