Imagine you want to build your own house; you’ve managed to acquire your piece of land, got your planning permission and grabbed a few raw materials. Now, do you grab your trowel and bricks cementing away with just a vague idea of what you want your finished house to look like? Of course you wouldn’t. Or at least I hope you wouldn’t. A similar concept applies to creating websites, applications and software, although there is obviously a much better chance of your website development succeeding that your house building endeavours without design. There is a distinct reason that my university lecturer created an entire module around design patterns and why Facebook considers designers the ‘key to the company’s long-term strategic success’.

Design is important.

expression studio 4

Good applications, websites and software start at the design stage. We understand how important design is in the process of creating something that is going to lead the market by being beautiful, user-friendly, ground-breaking and unique, so we’ll tell you about something that may lead you in that direction. But firstly, let me ask you the same question that I ask at all of the presentations that I give, to all of the audiences that I encounter; have you heard of DreamSpark?

DreamSpark is a comprehensive selection of the tools that professionals use to build real apps, real games and real solutions and it is absolutely FREE for students. If you’re a budding designer or you’re an avid software developer then download the Microsoft Expression Studio 4 Ultimate suite which gives you access to:

· Expression Web 4 for creating compelling websites visually

· Expression Blend 4 for creating rich web experiences, games, desktop apps and more

· Expression Design 4 for creating sophisticated vector graphics

· Expression Encoder 4 Pro for your video production needs

If you need a little inspiration or help in getting started and using these tools there are lots of resources available for you.

To learn how to use Expression Studio there are courses and tutorials available for you to get stuck into once you’ve downloaded the tools.

Windows Phone is an amazing technology to start developing with if you’ve not done much development before or even if you’re a seasoned developer. Expression Blend is a great accompaniment to developing for Windows Phone as it enables you to do most of the design easily in an intuitive and simple user interface, especially using tools such as SketchFlow which comes included in the Expression suite. To learn how to use the Expression suite to design Windows Phone apps take a look at this video featuring Celso Gomes and Peter Blois.

If it’s a bit of inspiration you’re after then have a look at ubelly’s interviews with designers who’ve worked on our top phone apps including IMDB, Twitter, Facebook and Shazam. There’s plenty more where that came from if that’s not enough here.

Start designing some amazing stuff today!