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In relation to the question of when should you skin your application (desktop apps, not web pages, which are almost always customised), it seems a real fact, that sometimes you just have to do it, whether you like it or not.

In these cases, it might help to peek at some beautiful, specially well designed or just functional custom UIs. Do you have some examples of any of these? Do you use them in your daily life? Had you noticed that the UI was customised?

I'm looking for good customised UIs you can learn from.

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4 Answers

Another music player/ripper/manager that has skins is Media Monkey.

A page showing some of the skins available can be found here

One plus point is that skins are completely optional ;) You can flick a switch and the application uses the default OS "skin". On a personal note I like this option as this is the UI I prefer.

Skins are easy to install - just copy the files to a directory - and off you go.

Obviously there are poorly designed skins - but the ones that come with the default installation are well designed.

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Could you elaborate more on why that application is specially well customized? –  David A. Nov 30 '10 at 8:02
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If you want to learn, I think you should also look at some specially bad examples so you know what not to do. Check out this post on SO.

And here are two examples of what I think are really nicely designed custom UI's. They are very easy to grasp, clear in how they do things and look nice (although that is more subjective).

Here's Artrage: alt text

And here's xmplay: alt text

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Custom skins is a major feature of Winamp, a free desktop MP3 player. A lot of the skin designs seem to mimic the designers perception of audio equipment. Most of the emphasis of the skins is on aesthetics.

Default skin (left) and some custom skins:

alt text alt text

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World of Warcraft

Default UI: Vanilla WoW

One of the many ways to skin it: Themed WoW

Most of the custom UIs aren't very good in the sense that they're visually attractive but clumsy and not particularly more efficient than the vanilla WoW UI, which after 6 years has held up very well. If you look hard, though, there are some custom UIs which improve efficiency for advanced players in ways the default UI, which is optimised for a broad set of people, isn't.

WoW's UI is customisable with Luascript. Check these sites for examples of more custom UIs:

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Wasn't the question about desktop "apps"? As in, those that aren't games? About leaving the default UI of the OS and making the app stand out as different? –  Muhammad Mussnoon Nov 29 '10 at 13:36
    
I didn't take that away from the question. But in terms of app skinning I think WoW offers a lot to learn from, so even if only "apps" were intended, this is still a good example IMO. –  Rahul Nov 29 '10 at 21:46
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