Visual Studio has been the go-to integrated development environment (IDE) for developers since its inception in 1997. Over the years, the UI design has gone through a few iterations, but the current design hasn't been updated since 2012. That's about to change.


Microsoft has recently announced a new update to the Visual Studio UI, based on the Fluent design language, that focuses on three main pillars: cohesiveness, accessibility, and productivity.


Visual Studio's new UI updates focus on accessibility, productivity, and cohesiveness
Visual Studio UI overhaul: New design language, new features, and improved user experience


  • Microsoft is updating the Visual Studio UI with a new design language, Fluent, to provide a more cohesive, accessible, and productive experience for developers.
  • The updates focus on reducing visual noise and cognitive load through adjustments to spacing, alignment, color application, and active region styling.
  • Developers can provide feedback on the updates through the Developer Community Ticket tracking improvements made to the command shelf, menus, tool window chrome, and document tabs.



Microsoft introduces new Fluent design language to improve Visual Studio experience

The Fluent design language provides a unified framework to create and deliver more productive, consistent, and accessible applications. The design principles have been applied across familiar products like Microsoft 365, and now the Visual Studio team is excited to incorporate those principles into the IDE.


The new UI updates aim to address the limitations of the current design that can be difficult to interact with, cause distractions and confusion, and create an environment that is potentially difficult to navigate. To solve these problems, the new UI design focuses on three pillars: cohesiveness, accessibility, and productivity.



Cohesiveness ensures that the new design balances a refreshed look and feel with the familiarity of the Visual Studio customers already know. By aligning with Fluent, Visual Studio will look and feel more seamless with the rest of the operating system and other Microsoft products.


Accessibility ensures that the updates follow Microsoft's accessibility best practices, making the product easier to use. This manifests in several ways, including adjusting target sizes to make them easier to use while maintaining information density, using color more intentionally to decrease visual noise and draw attention to the active areas of the IDE, and using lighter weight controls to make it easier to distinguish different actions.



Productivity ensures that the UI updates create more consistent experiences, making it easier to navigate the product with confidence by reducing the amount of time it takes to get familiarized with the UI. The updates also work to reduce cognitive load and mental fatigue, making Visual Studio a more comfortable work environment.


The new design changes are still a work in progress, but the Visual Studio team is excited to share early designs with the developer community. The team has created a new Developer Community Ticket to track the improvements made to the command shelf, menus, tool window chrome, and document tabs. Developers are invited to share their comments and suggestions as the team iterates on bringing these experiments to a future preview release.



Some of the design changes include adjustments to the spacing, alignment, and color application in the toolbars and menus, reducing visual noise and cognitive load. The team is also using colors and spacing more intentionally to reduce unnecessary visual noise and make the active part of the UI stand out, making it easier to recognize.


Overall, the new UI design for Visual Studio is cohesive, accessible, and productive. The updates balance a refreshed look and feel with the familiarity of the Visual Studio developers already know, while also making it easier to use, navigate, and be productive. The Visual Studio team is excited to incorporate feedback from the developer community to ensure that Visual Studio remains the best IDE for developers.


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