The cranky user: But does it come in purple? (01 Sep 2005)
Customizing the appearance of an application interface is a good thing in theory. The ability to select UI colors you like should make you happy. Customizable font size, color schemes, and background images are generally harmless and fairly easy to support. Sadly, though, such changes aren't always as harmless as they look. For instance, the appearance of an application is sometimes imposed by the operating system. Customizing the application can result in it becoming unusable -- as often happens when you set the font size on a Windows machine to anything but the default.
Similarly, if you adopt a different color scheme for a Windows or Macintosh OS you may discover that some of your programs have been cheating, drawing their own blocks of solid color instead of using the standard interface. Suffice to say that the results are ugly.
Application developers should take different platforms into consideration when designing customizable user interfaces. Some customization options are good -- they certainly make users happy -- but the results can be disastrous if taken too far.
Article URL: http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/web/library/wa-cranky56.html
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