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Skins for User Interface - Pros and Cons

User interface, what should it be to be attractive for everyone? Classic or thematic?

Should your software offer interface designed for each and every client's needs? Let's try to find the answers to these questions.

Well, definitely, the skins are what customers of media and entertaining applications love very much.

On the other hand, there is a bunch of programs where skins are not just unnecessary but harmful.

Can you imagine the system or administrative utility painted with all the colors of the rainbow? I can not.

In this case the only affordable thing is to change the color theme. Something closer to grayish hues is my thought of such software.

But where and when the skins are demanded?

Music and video players, voice and instant messengers have number of nice and cute skins supplied with installation packages.

This is mine classification of skinned applications:

  • Software not eligible for skins support
  • Software with non-extendable skin set
  • Software with detailed "Skin Development Kit"

    Well, first category was explained above and it's not really interesting in a scope of this article.

    Programs under second clause often have own skin format and do not give it to the public.

    The last category is the software I personally enjoy a lot. Customers love to make the things themselves, therefore a step-by-step tutorial of how to create the skin for your application is an attractive marketing hint.

    Two ways for your application:

  • "Make your simple skin in 5 minutes".

    Take a look back at old Winamp skins, where it was enough to use MSPaint for skins design. This is why WinAmp is the leading skinned application.

  • "Study our format's specifications and enjoy the great result of your efforts".

    Have you ever tried to create a skin for Windows Media Player, I more then sure you have not. User interface design here is more about programming neither about graphics design.

    Pros and Cons.

    Now you are introduced to the general types of skinned applications and you can decide whether you go with skins or you do not need them at all.


    Skins consist of the graphics, often include animated graphics. This will increase your system resources requirements and probably slow down the performance, but...


    Most customers like to see their products customizable, change the themes according their moodBusiness Management Articles, season or favorite color. Offer a skins feature you stand higher your competitors.

    Skins are the fashion of software and this is your choice whether to be in or not.

  • Article Tags: User Interface

    Source: Free Articles from


    Paul Greatskin,

    Expert of User Interface Design,

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