I'm designing a user interface for a Flash-based enterprise-level business application. I am restricted to using a corporate theme, so have limited ability to play with colors and so on. The application has several "object" types (reports, "plans", data objects, etc. - there can be many instances of each type), and the pattern for working with a particular object type is always virtually the same: 1) Bring up a table of these objects that can be sorted/filtered in order to find the objects of interest 2) From the table, open an object (or objects) in an editor to work on it. Typically, most of the user's time in the application is spent in the editors (this is the real content)
The problem I'm facing, is that all the tables and editors look virtually the same and I worry about the lack of orienting cues. Sure there are labels above the tables/editors, but I'm not sure these are salient enough.
So my question is this - what have others of you done in order to provide orienting cues in user interfaces, to help people determine where they are in a user interface that is otherwise quite homogeneous?