Quality of Artwork User Customizability 
or, "Where'd I see that before?"

Skinning is a lot like music - over-exposure to one particular style tends to put people off. Sure, it would be easy enough to make your own clone of the flavour of the month, but if there are ten other skins out there that look and act the same as yours, what's the point? At the best, you'll turn out a "me too!" skin. Worse, you could be accused of copying someone else.

So where can you find originality? All around you! The play of light on a glass of water, sun on a spring lawn, the grain of your wooden desk - of course, there are several wood-grain skins out there already so you might want to look a little further, but you get the idea. Don't be afraid to experiment - "mistakes" often turn out better than the effect you intended.

Another way to develop an original skin is to start off with the feeling you want your skin to evoke in users - cheerful, depressive, high-tech, alien - and then think of a colour scheme (bright yellows, dark shadows, grey-blue, dank greens) and texture (smooth, disrupted, metallic, bubbly) to go along with that.

Originality doesn't just have to be graphical, either. Think of a new way of arranging things so that it takes your users less time to get to what they're looking for, or so they have the same features in less space. Many skinning applications have programmable plugin interfaces or scripting features that allow you to reach beyond the boundaries set by the application - if you've got experience in this area this may be where your skin can shine; if not, this could be your chance to start!

Quick Hint: For those systems that support it, plugins are a great way of providing extra functionality. You usually don't need to be a programmer to use them, either.
 Quality of Artwork User Customizability 

This site is copyright 2003 Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry. Got comments? Mail me.