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.
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.