I am currently writing a library to create desktop user interfaces, and I am asking myself a question: is it better to have a native look and feel, or a consistent custom look and feel?

I personnally think that, today, custom look and feel is important because it gives a real identity to the application, and it helps to highlight features. Moreover, every professionnal application uses custom look and feel, from what I saw. However, I talked with someone and he pointed the fact that a consistent design whole the system can be important in term of user experience. So, I was wondering if I really need to support native operating system components.

Just to clarify, by "native components", I mean the normal design of buttons, text fields, dropdowns, menus... For example, on windows, these things look like this: Windows look and feel

Thank you for your help!

closed as primarily opinion-based by Shreyas Tripathy, locationunknown, Andrew Martin, Wanda, Ken Mohnkern Mar 28 '18 at 14:56

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • There are a few things to consider here: A custom look and feel is great as long as your users can still identify controls and understand how to use them. You need to consider the accessibility of your customised style. You also need to bear in mind that development of this new look and feel may be more costly to your client. Finally, any future revisions and adjustments may be much more costly because they will require more design work and well as custom development work. – Andrew Martin Mar 22 '18 at 8:23

It depends. The same dilemma exists for native mobile apps vs web apps. Brands have tried to apply one UI and styling to all platforms, but usually came back from that.

Because it depends on how likely it is that a user uses the app on multiple platforms. If they stick to one platform, it doesn’t help the user there is consistency between the apps on different platforms. In fact, if the app behaves like the other apps on their device, due to familiarity they likely find it easier to use them.

In your case: how likely is it that a user uses apps made with the library on more than one desktop OS? I don’t know what the library is for, but I would expect that not many users use multiple desktop OSs. In that case using OS standards would be more useful to most users.

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