My opinion might not be that of the great masses and it might not be useful to you very much, but any application that tries to 'differ' from the standard Windows UI immediately gets a negative 10 points that almost always makes me move to the never-trying-it-out phase. (Hell, as it is I don't really like most of the UI of the last generation of browsers.) Different UI means users need to train and learn different elements and habits, and no matter how much time you spend on it you will miss things that some users might need.
With JottiQ, I tried really hard to stick to a standard interface, and what did I find? Mousewheel breaks/acts up due to a .NET control bug. Different DPI screwed the pooch and made text unreadable. Different colour settings made stuff unreadable. If it wasn't for cranioscopical, I would never have found half of those issues.
Sure, with a custom interface you solve the problem of not needing to take every possible Windows setting into account, but you forget that the user has configured those things like that for a reason. Maybe they have bad eyesight, maybe they have a big screen and don't want to scroll 3 lines at a time, or maybe they plain hate bright colors.
The world is bad enough with the big vendors reinventing user interfaces every product cycle. Let's not follow their habit with our small applications, please. Rather focus on the features you can offer and a simple interface to go along with it.
That's one of the problems that I want to address -- the standard Windows UI is simply difficult for a lot of people. (It's also pretty boring a lot of the time.)
One of the things that people are used to is surfing, and while it's kind of nutty to reproduce that, it shows that people can adapt to different UIs as long as there is a certain amount of standardization.
The problem with non-standard UIs in Windows Forms is that they go way too far with widgets that nobody has seen, or are very uncommon. e.g. The highlighted button here is for a menu (as per the mouse over):Keeping the UI Responsive - What Would You Do?
But, when you click it, you get this:Keeping the UI Responsive - What Would You Do?
It slides up.
Not what you'd expect from a menu.
Now, it certainly looks nice, but there's still a lot there, and non-standard things get lost quickly.
From the above shot of Photo Resizer, here're "standard" looks:Keeping the UI Responsive - What Would You Do?Keeping the UI Responsive - What Would You Do?
Both very boring.
Also, the title bar serves no purpose, and in the first one, it is only confusing with extra buttons that are not needed.
Back to the version I'm debating:Keeping the UI Responsive - What Would You Do?
It's clear, looks better, and had less in it that can be confusing. There's 1 thing to do. Click OK. Not 2 or 3. Just 1.
Pick ANY web site at all and there's a 100% chance that it will be more confusing/complex. If people can handle a web site, they can handle that. (Which amounts to a normal Winform with a background image and a button with an image.)
Also, you're not really in the target audience. It's meant for regular people, and not power users and programmers.
JottiQ has a much more complex UI, which is everything I'm trying to avoid -- i.e. if the program can make a reasonable decision for the user, then do it. Avoid options at all costs.
At the moment I have notifications with 2 options - continue or cancel. I'd kind of like to only have 1, but as I'm dealing with SNS accounts, I have to make sure that people can opt out at any point. It's their information after all.
But, if you look at the UI, there are no tricky or unusual components. The buttons are still buttons, and the text is still text. The form border is set to None, but that's the most extreme part. And the border isn't needed. (The form is still movable from any point on it - click and drag - which is actually easier than clicking the title bar.)
I know a lot of people here are DC are vehemently opposed to anything other than the run-of-the-mill form and opposed to any kind of design in a form. But I don't think the people at DC are representative of the market at large.
Anyways... I'm still debating things... Not sure myself...