New Default Theme for Phoenix

Tuesday December 24th, 2002

Arvid Axelsson's Qute is now the default theme in Phoenix, replacing the previous Orbit-derived skin. The transition to the new theme is mostly complete but a few changes still need to be made. The new default theme isn't in the latest builds yet, but here's a screenshot of Qute in the most recent nightly to give you an idea of what it will look like. Follow the thread in the Phoenix Themes forum for more details.

Update! The latest Windows nightly now features the new default theme.

Another Update! The latest Linux builds now also feature Qute as the default theme.

#1 Windows gray - ra

by Kovu

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 9:45 AM

I had hoped that Win9x Windows gray was dead forever - evidently it's not to be.

#3 Re: Windows gray - ra

by kerz

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 10:52 AM

It will pick up your windows system colors, so change them, and it'll change.


#56 GTK colors work correctly too under KDE or GNOME

by mbokil

Thursday December 26th, 2002 10:43 PM

As the previous response noted I wouldn't bother complaining about the gray color for the window widgets. If you are using Windows or Linux with KDE or GNOME and you have changed your widget colors then Phoenix will correctly pickup those color changes. Nice GTK work Phoenix developers. For those Windows XP people that can't figure out how to change their theme you might want to consider switching to Redhat 8 or Mandrake 9 linux. You would be suprised to find that all the buttons, scroll bars, menu colors will get picked up on linux from the window manager theme. You can even use a Windows XP looking theme to make you feel more comfortable. I also think Mozilla and Phoenix crash less under linux also.

#2 I don't like it

by sremick

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 10:24 AM

Well, on one hand Qute is definitely well-done artistically... it is polished.

On the other, I don't like it. I'm not much for themes that turn your application into a cartoon (I don't like the default XP theme either). While I congratulate the Phoenix team on their efforts, and realize this is a work-in-progress, I would like to cast my vote for a default theme that still presents the application as a tool, and not as Fischer-Price toy.

I also agree with Kovu that Windows grey should go the way of OEM-case beige.

Just my opinion. You're welcome to agree or disagree with it.

#4 Re: I don't like it

by rehabdoll

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 10:54 AM

totally agree. Im still using Mozilla cause of the lack of a useful theme for phoenix. My "killer theme" for mozilla is Lo-Fi, that does not exist for phoenix yet. (

A *USEFUL* theme should have very few colors, if any.

#5 Breeze

by aah

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 11:30 AM

I'm going to ignore the "still using Mozilla because of the lack of a useful theme" comment. Well, no I'm not -- why switch apps if the only thing you care about is the way it looks? Anyway -- try the Breeze theme. It's the closest I've found to Lo-Fi.

#6 Re: I don't like it

by rehabdoll

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 11:52 AM

Well, ofcourse its not the only reason. But still. The UI (theme) must in my oppinion, be useful and easy on the eye. I really dont care how Mozilla/phoenix looks as long as i dont get a headache using it. Thats why i never use Breeze, the bright background.

BlueStreak is my favourite Phoenix theme.

#10 true

by pizzach

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 1:52 PM

Everyone to their own preference. I personally like a theme with colors, but not soo many that it looks weird. (Look at me! I'm using Mac OS X! ) Anyway, isn't the default mozilla theme made with a small number of colors so that it will be usable on as many computers as possible. (for example if it was on a black an white monitor.) I've heard modern looks nasty in anything under 256 colors.

#8 Re: Re: I don't like it

by asa

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 1:13 PM

"A *USEFUL* theme should have very few colors, if any."

I think you're wrong. Usability is a piece of usefulness. Having distinct colors for the different icons helps users find them more quickly, improving usability. Color and shape are about all we have to work with to distinguish the different buttons. Saying that an app shouldn't use different colors is nearly as foolish as saying an app shouldn't use different shapes for different icons. Would you have all the button icons on the toolbar just be colorless sqaures? No, you wouldn't. Having back and forward be arrows helps to suggest their actions and distinguish them from other buttons with other actions. Taking that away would make finding the correct button a lot harder. Color is the same. Take color and shape away and a user has to learn by trial and error what the buttons do and then has to remember placement on the toolbar with zero clues. This would make the app a lot less usable and therefor a lot less useful.


#22 "Colors are as useful as shapes" agument by ASA

by peterlairo

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 6:05 PM

Now THAT was an excellent argument for using colors. Hooray for Asa's insight into and defense of the usefulness of colors, hooray. Drabness be-gone.

Colors are import visual clues as to function.

#34 Re: I don't like it

by rehabdoll

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 12:53 AM

IMO, shape is a lot more important than colour. And im talking about the basic theme-ui (back, forward, reload etc.), not YES and NO dialouges where "NO" should be somehow marked red and "YES" green :)

The main reason i dont like, for example Orbit 3+1 is because, well first of all: The background. I have customized the colours in my UI with great care.. to be easy on the eyes and not for eyecandy. Therefore i dont like when such a major app as a browser takes over and changes the basic colour. The second thing is the buttons. They are all round. Sure, there are mini-icons within the circle but not distinctive enough. That said, Orbit is probably the most pretty moz/phoenix theme yet. But IMO not the most useful one.

Now, about Qute.. I guess its a good default-theme. Enough eyecandy to get new users interested and enough usefulness to take the browser serious. I do see why youve chosen it as the default theme.

Oh well, maybe im just being picky and annoying. but thats my (unique?) thought

#54 IE

by Kovu

Thursday December 26th, 2002 10:47 AM

A case in point for your argument, Asa, is IE, which until v. 6 had "colorless squares" as icons. They showed their color only when you hovered your mouse over them. As we can see in v. 6, Microsoft finally backed off of that.

#59 Re: IE

by kiwisurfer

Sunday December 29th, 2002 1:51 AM

Humm, using MSIE6.0 I see they're still doing excalty the same thing they were doing sicne 4.x. The icons are still gray untill u hover over them.

Do you have a screenshot?

- James

#62 Windows XP

by Kovu

Tuesday December 31st, 2002 11:13 AM

Well, the version of IE 6 in Windows XP has the new interface. If you're using a non-XP version of Windows you'll just get the old gray interface. I don't have a screenshot posted, but if you look at an XP computer you'll be able to see it.

#12 Rebuttal

by Kommet

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 2:09 PM

I'm sure one or two people remember my arguements about App-Centric UI design vs. Object-Centric (windows are independent things) design in the "Phoenix should(n't) have a Close App option" thread. For those who didn't, I have a background doing UI testing for a QA team, which means that I know with ABSOLUTE certainty that I am always right on matters regarding UI design principles, just like every other UI tester/designer does, including the ones who adhere to oposite theories in human-machine interface. ;-)

That said, Asa is absolutely correct. A good toolbar-centric UI SHOULD make use of colors and shapes to indicate the use of any specific tool (arrow, red stop symbol, picture of the president, etc.) and to differentiate the tools from one another at a quick glance. The faster your users can find the tool, the better your UI is. Simply put, color makes the toolbar better, not worse. If this makes it look like a toy at first glance, remember that toys will have colorful buttons because this is generally their ONLY interface, and making it easier to use makes it more fun and more popular.

The "Modern" Mozilla skin is actually a slick-looking study in what to AVOID: the buttons are round which belies the fact that the target areas (where you can click) are recrangular, the arrows and stop X are similar enough in shape out of the corner of one's eye to require a user to focus on the toolbar instead of just glancing at it, and (similarly) the "White on Blueish-Gray" color scheme shared by all buttons fails to differentiate them at all.

I actually use the Modern theme myself, proof-positive that a wrong UI can still be usable. I'm just trying to point out that it could be better.

#63 Re: I don't like it

by diabelek

Saturday April 12th, 2003 11:55 PM

I would like to argue two (short) points for not using Qute as the default theme.

1) Its not original. I don't know about anyone else but looking at the screenshots all that I can think of is Internet Explorer. The back, forward, stop, home, print and bookmarks (or should i say favorites?) are more or less identical to IE. I know this sounds like an anti-MS arguement but please don't take it that way. I do think the artwork is good but I would like to see phoenix be a destinct browser instead of mimicing another browser. You don't generate brand loyalty by mimicing another product do you?

2) I agrea with sremic on the fact that it is to "cartoonish." I would also like to point out that the theme doesn't work well (visually) in other OSes. XP (by default) is the only os that I think that theme really "works" in (gnome is only a sorta). I think something more simplistic or original would be more suited for phoenix since it needs to work on various platforms. While not a big fan of Mozilla's default theme, I think using that would be more appropriate than using Qute (still want something a little more simple). Note that Phoenix is a derivative of Mozilla (and now a replacement, correct me if i'm wrong) and so using its theme would not be mimicing another browser since they more or less are the same browsers. Also they are from the same company and so it would be a good idea to use the same theme to generate more brand loyalty.

Ultimately I think the designers need to ask the people what they would like for the skin. Maybe I've missed it, but I have never seen a voting option on the site for the favorite skin.

I would personally like to see skin that works well in plain jane X11. If you've used NCR/AT&T Unix or cygwin, that's the environment i'm talking about.

Thats about all I have to say so post and correct any of my ranting. I always love to be criticted/corrected. but please ignore typos... i'm really tired right now :) Nightty Night

#7 tooooooo CUTE

by tlyczko

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 1:05 PM

no wonder it's called Qute...also the X in the Stop button is OFF center...i like the current orange orbit theme MUCH better...please don't throw it away.... :) tom

#9 Re: tooooooo CUTE

by asa

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 1:14 PM

"i like the current orange orbit theme MUCH better"

and no one is going to stop you from installing it. aren't themes great!


#11 themes

by salmo

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 2:01 PM

I don't particularly like Qute very much, but I can understand why it would be chosen as a default. It's not too dull and not too fancy. I like simple and clean a lot better than cute and colorful, though. That's why this change doesn't effect me much at all. I'll still stick with breeze

#13 As a default

by jeti

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 2:29 PM

Qute doesn't look half bad. But as a default theme, it should comply more closely with established icon designs. I'm thinkíng esp. of the reload button.

#14 Bah.

by Canar

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 2:51 PM

Qute is fugly. I'd have stuck with Orbit. At least it's half-ways artisitically consistent.

#15 stange UI Usability issues with icons

by mbokil

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 3:14 PM

I don't get what the red star has to do with bookmarks. Everyone is used to the bookmarks icon looking like, well, little bookmarks. A big red commie star just doesn't make any sense from a UI perspective. Also, what is with the weird sicle icon for the throbber. It also doesn't fit and doesn't convey activity. If you are going for a cute, generic looking UI then stick with what is standard.

#16 Re: stange UI Usability issues with icons

by AlexBishop

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 4:15 PM

"I don't get what the red star has to do with bookmarks. Everyone is used to the bookmarks icon looking like, well, little bookmarks. A big red commie star just doesn't make any sense from a UI perspective."

It's something like Star == Best. People bookmark sites they think are the best (usually). IE's Favorites icon is a blue star on a yellow folder (or just a yellow star in Windows XP) so there's a precedent there.

"Also, what is with the weird sicle icon for the throbber. It also doesn't fit and doesn't convey activity."

I don't like the throbber much either.


#23 Re: stange UI Usability issues with icons

by peterlairo

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 6:13 PM

The Star = Best only works is the star looks like a star we associate with "best", and that would be gold, silver, white or yellow. Red, we definetely NEVER associate with "best". (IMO)

The throbber actually remindes me of the game QUAKE from id. Since i am a big id fan, I thin kthe throbber is cool (but shouldn't be in this theme - a Quake 3 Arena theme maybe, hmmmmm).

#47 Opera 7 has a star too

by paulm

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 5:16 PM

I'm guessing the issue here is that most people here associate the red star with Mozilla and might think the button has something to do with Moz

#24 no common "Theme" in this theme!?

by peterlairo

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 6:18 PM

Although each individual icon looks good (i like colors and 3d effects), the icons don't seem to fit with each other. It is almost as if they took one best icon from ten different themes and made one theme (it's actually not as bad it i'm making it sound, but the discrepancy is there).

To me, it is most noticeable in the difference between the forward|back|stop buttons and the home button (circular/2D versus rectangular/3D)

#17 excellent choice!!

by macpeep

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 4:25 PM

Well, all I can say is that I'm very, very pleased with this choice. I think Qute is by far the most polished and professionally looking theme of the current ones. There's really nothing that sticks out and screams in the theme, such as Orbit's stop button, which splits people pretty 50 - 50 between "cool" and "fugly". Instead, it's a well balanced, professional, consistent and calm looking theme, which is thus excellently suited for a default theme. It fits in well with both the older Windows (98, 2000, etc.) classic look and with Windows XP's Luna look. I haven't seen it in Linux, but I can imagine it would good in at least Red Hat's new theme, which name escapes me at the moment (Blue -something).

Again, great choice!

#18 wallet?

by macpeep

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 4:31 PM

What's the news on the wallet functionality? That's the big issue that's still missing that's making Phoenix a little hard to use as a default / main browser right now, since there's no password manager, yet it attempts to remember passwords. If you get it wrong once, you're basically screwed.

From what I understand, there's going to be some kind of totally re-designed thing that takes care of all the needs (I assume that would be at least passwords, images, popups, cookies) in one blow. I can't find anything any info about it though.. Does anyone know where I could read more about it?

#29 Re: wallet?

by Blake

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 9:06 PM

Nah, it just takes care of passwords, so it obsoletes the password manager. It will behave like IE's formfill system, that is, you choose a username from the autofill dropdown and it prefills the associated password in the password field.

#19 bloated theme

by ndebord

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 5:30 PM

The new theme for Phoenix takes up enough space to float a battleship.

You could do better. Perhaps one of the thin themes instead.


#20 Re: bloated theme

by asa

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 5:33 PM

"You could do better. Perhaps one of the thin themes instead. "

Yes, you can do better. Go install one of the thin themes instead.


#30 Re: bloated theme

by Blake

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 9:07 PM

The build sizes haven't changed. What are you talking about?

#35 Re: Re: bloated theme

by ogiesen

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 2:22 AM

I guess he's talking about the screen space this thing takes up. This would line up with my initial reaction to the screenshot, which was "Gosh, I really hope there's a "small icons" alternative!".

#37 Re: Re: bloated theme

by Netsabes

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 3:20 AM

Hmm, in fact, the build size has changed, it's smaller now :)

#21 No!

by odd

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 5:36 PM

I don't like this at all. It is far too similar to Internet Explorer.

#31 Re: No!

by Blake

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 9:10 PM

Then switch themes. That's why we have themes. The Phoenix team was well aware that there'd be dissenters for any theme we chose and, frankly, it doesn't care.

#42 Re: Re: No!

by odd

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 12:12 PM

The theme has serious usability flaws aside from its ugliness.

#43 Re: Re: Re: No!

by Blake

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 12:40 PM

Well, gosh, with usability data like that, how can I argue?

Again, I say "switch themes."

#51 Re: Re: No!

by the_Rebel

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 11:58 PM

It is amazing how often I hear someone from the Phoenix team say that the Phoenix team does not care.

#52 Re: Re: Re: No!

by Blake

Thursday December 26th, 2002 1:00 AM

We are tired of people who expect us to hold some sort of poll or something to decide the default theme. People need to realize that theme preference is completely subject to opinion, and there is no way to accurately gauge what theme tens of thousands of Phoenix users like most. Your time is better spent elsewhere (i.e., not complaining about past decisions).

#25 silly - why not Blue Orbit?

by stylo

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 7:36 PM

Looks really silly. Cartoonish.

Personally I think the blue orbit theme is the most professional looking. (The orange is garish).

Cartoons should be an option for the kids.

#26 Bad Screenshot?

by googolplex

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 8:12 PM

Maybe if the person who took the screenshot didn't have the ugly gray and bad font settings people would like it more :). No offense to the person who did the screenshot.

Oh btw, whats up with the silly windows icon for the app in the title bar?

#27 Re: Bad Screenshot?

by AlexBishop

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 8:26 PM

"Maybe if the person who took the screenshot didn't have the ugly gray and bad font settings people would like it more :). No offense to the person who did the screenshot."

Well frankly, I'm offended! ;-) The grey is just the Windows 98 Second Edition default 3D objects colour and I don't see anything wrong with the fonts. Before taking the screenshot, the colour depth was reduced to 16 bit and the file was saved as a PNG with Level 6 compression, which would explain the degradation in the image quality.

On the other hand, I did go to the trouble of customising the toolbar so that it displayed all the buttons and setting up an interesting-looking browsing scenario. And did I mention that I downloaded the (then) latest nightly just to take the screenshot? On a 56.6k modem? In six inches of snow? While battling off raging tigers?


#40 Re: Re: Bad Screenshot?

by stylo

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 9:47 AM

How about a raging tiger theme?

#60 Re: Re: Bad Screenshot?

by sconest

Tuesday December 31st, 2002 1:38 AM

I didn't know that getting a Phoenix nightly was so difficult and dangerous :)

#28 Re: Bad Screenshot?

by Hendikins

Tuesday December 24th, 2002 8:32 PM

See also

#36 Re: Re: Bad Screenshot?

by ogiesen

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 2:35 AM

Right. This looks A LOT better than the original screenshot! Who on earth (apart from visually handicapped people of course) would use these huge icons with text(!) in the real world?

I still like the old default better for its consistency. As someone else mentioned on this thread, this looks more like a collection of nice icons from different themes than a set of its own.

BTW: Will the old default continue to be included in the download or will I have to download it manually? I'm a really lazy person, you know... ;)

#48 yeah

by googolplex

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 9:17 PM

Yeah this looks much better :)

#55 Re: Re: Re: Bad Screenshot?

by AlexBishop

Thursday December 26th, 2002 4:00 PM

"Who on earth (apart from visually handicapped people of course) would use these huge icons with text(!) in the real world?"

Me, apparently.


#57 Re: Bad Screenshot?

by mlippert

Friday December 27th, 2002 10:18 AM

Me too. They aren't so huge at 1600x1200 resolution. The measured dpi of my screen (based measuring the line displayed by Mozilla in preferences) is 104.


#38 New theme Screenshot

by bandido

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 7:32 AM

I think this screenshot looks significantly better than the one posted (linked) in the original message. May I suggest relinking? ;-)

#44 Re: Bad Screenshot?

by pmsyyz

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 1:16 PM

See for a view of the customization sheet showing all icons.

#32 Needs coherence of style

by Yui

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 12:09 AM

I also agree with Kovu. The grey looks, well, boring and drab while the icons don't have any coherence of style. I would rather have something as professionally polished as the Chimera theme. The background is a nice shade of white while the icons have a definite style and coherence. To me the Chimera theme is highly polished, and it is too bad there are none similiar.

#33 Re: Needs coherence of style

by Blake

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 12:51 AM

There are many people here complaining about the "drab gray." You all need to address your comments to Microsoft, attn: OS UI dept. We use the SYSTEM COLORS. We are not going to make our application flashy blue and orange and hope that we somehow start a new trend. We're just a browser; there's nothing so special about the app that we should make it look different from every other program.

#39 Re: Re: Needs coherence of style

by andred

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 8:24 AM

To be fair Blake, there is also another operating system called Linux where you don't obey the system color. I know that's a bug, but IMHO it should have been worked out before making this theme default.

#41 Re: Re: Re: Needs coherence of style

by Blake

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 11:34 AM

Well, many people that were complaining here seemed to be referring to the Windows screenshot linked to in the article since actual builds with the theme weren't available yet.

#50 Re: Re: Needs coherence of style

by ISagalaev

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 11:51 PM

Living Alone That 'Gray' Another Question Is Still Here: Why Icons Are So Different? Back&Forward - From WinXP, Reload - From Chimera. New Tab & New Window Both Look Like A Beginner's Second Exercise With Some Cool Graphics Editor... That Darkgreen Rounded Pluses - They Just Don't Belong Here Anyway!

So I'm Not Talking About Usability Here (Call Matthew For That :-) ). The Theme Is Plainly Not Attractive.

#49 How about

by googolplex

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 9:18 PM

You get a mac and run chimera. :-P

#61 Re: How about

by sconest

Tuesday December 31st, 2002 1:40 AM

or get the Chimera theme :)

#45 vote?

by TheK

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 1:55 PM

maybe we should start a vote, if the new or the old theme is the better default. At least the default should start to show more buttons and use an own bar for adress now!

#46 Re: regression

by laszlo

Wednesday December 25th, 2002 5:02 PM

There already is one But please people, don't waste time complaining.

#53 Re: Re: regression

by TheK

Thursday December 26th, 2002 5:00 AM

doesn't look, as if it has that much fans.. why vote some people for "I do not care"? :)

#58 blah

by nicku

Friday December 27th, 2002 1:50 PM

Its too Internet Explorer. Also, the icons arent visually balanced. It could be ok with some work, just ditch the ones that look like they are straight from IE. (home, print, etc).