From technology to politics to video games; these are the random thoughts of a geek with too much time on his hands
Beauty, they say, is in the eye of the beholder. What I think is trash, you might think treasure. The cliches go on and on, but that doesn't make them any less true. And at a site like WinCustomize, that subjective taste really comes to the forefront when people rate and comment on submitted skins, icons and other items.

Of course, there are some things that almost everyone recognizes as high quality. Skins like eminence and Jaluran seem to be enjoying pretty wide-spread acceptance by the community, at least judging by the number of downloads and comments. But what is it about these two skins, which are very different in general style, that everyone likes so much? Personal tastes aside, what makes a skin, an icon, a theme etc. "good"?

Currently, I'm running eminence by rjsmith2007 for my blind, and Mormegil's Apogee icon suite. Hippy's Magic 8 Ball often graces my desktop and I have ObjectDock Plus running with the standard skin (because I can't find a good one for it). All of the enhancements I actually run on my system tend to be of the clean/minimalist style. Soft, clean edges, nothing extra/unnecessary generally. That's the style I like. But then again, I love MikeB314's Old Republic skin, which is generally a lot busier than I usually like.

What is it about these different skins? Is it their clean and well drawn graphics? Is it the interesting placement of borders? Is it the color schemes that do it?

What do YOU think are the essential elements to any skin, icon, theme etc? What separates the OK from the great? What are the things you always look for in the content you download?

Comments
on Jul 26, 2006

What do YOU think are the essential elements to any skin, icon, theme etc? What separates the OK from the great?

One word....

 

Originality...

on Jul 26, 2006
Hey buddy, I hope all is well with you.

New job has me so stressed out that I broke out with shingles. Yay, this is totally worth it...../sarcasm

I hope its better with you now that you are out of this god forsaken place.
on Jul 26, 2006
One thing I always look at right away after downloading any WB skin is that the All Programs button is skinned on mouseover. That is the deciding factor on a skin I am not sure I want to keep or not. If I really like a skin though, and it is possible for me to do, I just recolor the Menu-Highlighted background (XP Only) attribute. If I cannot do that (due to gradients, graphics, etc) I will use the skin anyway....

The number of icons in a package is something I look at also. The more, the better.

I have been using Eminence by Zero since it came out and absolutely love it. I also use aerial by danilloOC. They are just clean, original skins and I switch between the 2 constantly. I use numerous icon packages, most of them are Paul Boyer's.
on Jul 26, 2006
My one word would be "unobtrusive." If it spins or flashes or wiggles about, drawing my attention from what I'm trying to do on the computer, forget it! Toned down colors and low contrast would fall into the same category. I realize that a lot of people like dark themes, but I do not. Transparency is nice to a degree, but not to the point where you can't tell which window is which. Finally, IMHO, simpler is generally better. The more complex something is, the sooner I get tired of looking at it.

My current line up is: Kali WB theme, ClearXP icons and Pro Tools cursor.
on Jul 26, 2006
I swing back in forth between the totally original and out there, but after awile I generally go to a more sublty skin for everyday use.

What I look for is clean, well made graphics that are not 'messy' looking. Also, that whatever skin I am using (for whatever) is completely skinned, I find it really annonying to use a very nice skin and then a piece is not skinned or missing something.

Currently I'm using a WIP so guess I can't really say much more than that.
on Jul 26, 2006
For a good skin i look for... jj ying lol
on Jul 26, 2006
I can't really tell why ppl like what ppl use, I just design to my liking. If I dont like I dont produce or upload...If ppl like it its a plus to me..if ppl dont...and did not tell my why he/she dont like it...I cant really tell why....but one thing for sure ppl preference swings 360 deg all the time...so if ppl dont like it....well at least i like it. And I assume most of skin designers here think this way too...??


on Jul 26, 2006
What do I look for?
In an icon package I look for instant file type recognition. If I can't figure out what the heck that icon's program is at a glance I probably won't keep it around long. Hanging Folders by Asect is a great example of instantly recognizable icons.

For WB, clean lines, white spaces and good contrasts. If the backgrounds on text spreadsheet and email files are weird colors with hard to read font colors it will wear out fast. I love good animations, just not giant annoying ones. I'm using ChaNinja style right now and I love it. My business desktop gets seen a lot by co-workers and I prefer a professional look. (My home desktop can get a bit more wild and creative.)
I know several co-workers who've bought Windowblinds after seeing my desktop at work.
on Jul 27, 2006
For me, the first thing I look for in a skin before considering originality and long term useability are the graphics. The skin has to first look good (to me, everyone has different tastes); after all, thats what skinning's all about: replacing the ugly windows default theme with something that looks better.

Originality and useability come afterwards; if a skin is too dark, too light, etc., I can always go in and change it. If the core look of the skin is just plain ugly though, there's no fixing it.

after all, I can draw up a 5-minute skin in ms paint, then move the window buttons to a different location and call it original, and the skin would be complete crap.
on Jul 27, 2006
Well the first point I look at a skin if its is dark and simple styled as I don't like fully bright or to colorful skins. The second one goes for minimalism as I can't have enough working space on my screen. And the third and final one is its usability, but if an otherwise superior skin only lacks this, it often can be change by some editing.

There is also the point that I have never found the "one" perfect skin for any app (blind, wa, miranda, ...), but this might be due my own perfectionism when I create skins, so you won't seen much of my own in public as I never can see a skin of mine finished
on Jul 30, 2006
My desktop tends to revolve around the wallpaper. If I was an interior decorator I would call the various skins accessories to a main theme. This is why I enjoy looking at the different screen shots so much because I am always picking up new ideas. Window Blinds are maybe the most important skin as they are so defining of the edges. I enjoy WBs that are easy to change the color if need be and don't screw around with the visibility of the type. And a strong start menu is important. Icons can be a hassle as so many really look the same. Dark blue has been beaten to death. It's nice when somehing really unique shows up. If need be I will make my own icons to fit the wallpaper. Various widgets are fun to work with as long as you can change the color easily. Object docks and Icon X can really make a statement. And I am beginning to see the importance of the lowly cursor. But in the end the eye focuses on the wallpaper.
on Jul 30, 2006
i got shingles too!
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