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So what in your oppinion makes a great skin

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  • So what in your oppinion makes a great skin

    Recently I have been messing around with desigining skins and re-creating ones that died out or were never released.

    the question I am posing to the community as a whole is this : " What in your oppinion makes a great skin "

    I see the current trend is skins that resemble the skinfathers brushed metal skin in layout and design. It is my hope that though this thread we can get a discussion going about what qualities make a skin usable and desired.

    yes, I know there have been some previous posts on this subject in the past but lets put together some information and design ideas to assist current and future developers with design and implementation ideas though our personal experience with our computers.

  • #2
    Simplicity, clear easy to read fonts, big buttons, easy access to main functions.
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    • #3
      Well, to me it is quite important that it is easy operated via touchscreen. I also like skins where the "song library" window is big, as i have many mp3s in my car (and never uses "artist, album" and those browsing modes =P
      My carputer

      Old one

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      • #4
        Big buttons and text, high contrast color combos for day use.
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        • #5
          Originally posted by Scorpnstail
          yes, I know there have been some previous posts on this subject in the past but lets put together some information and design ideas to assist current and future developers with design and implementation ideas though our personal experience with our computers.
          Here it goes:

          (I will use Brushed Metal as an example a lot because I've used it a lot.)

          1) Asthetics are secondary. I want a skin to look nice in the Brushed Metal kind of way. No pixellated icons, no ugly flashy fonts that are hard to read. Clean is the word I usually like to use. MediaEngine skins are notoriously guilty of just looking like crap.

          2) CONSISTENCY.
          a. Size/Shape consistency: I could not fsking believe it when I was listening to a song using Brush Metal, clicked on from Player to Browser and the Play/Rew/FF icon area actually shifted. The sizes were completely different. This just can't be.

          b. Functional consistency. One nice feature of Drivesoft is that no matter what "screen" you're on you can click on a button without looking because its the same as the other screens. Up/Down/Back, Main Menu, as well as Play/FF/REW are all in the exact same spots. While you can always get used to something inconsistent, in a vehicle I don't want my brain to have to do any work.

          3) Intuitiveness. Is that a word? The way I see it, if my girlfriend can't figure out how to choose a song and then get to the GPS navigation, its too complicated. This is completely the fault of skinners because all the major FEs are flexible enough to be that easy to use if properly skinned. This means using descriptive icons that immediately tell your brain what they do. It also means you shouldn't have to explain to anyone "Oh, yeah, to get back you have to click here, and then here, and then here." HUH! Once again, MediaEngine is notorious for this. I still have to look at the buttons and think about which is which.

          4) Simplicity. I can't understand why most of the front-ends are using separate screens for browsing music and playing. To me this is so obvious that it should be on the same screen. Also, if its to have the ability to make playlists, how many people actually create playlists in the car? I don't, and I would much rather be able to browse music without leaving the playing screen.

          5) Brightness. I think we really need to keep brightness in mind. The darker skins just don't work in the daylight where an even slightly brighter skin is 100% more readable in the daylight.

          Unfortunately, these consistent faults are what make me almost completely unhappy with any of the front-ends. And its not the FE authors fault, its the skinners. Yes I know I should put my money where my mouth is, but if you're not artistic you're just not, and well I'm not.

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          • #6
            Well ddn has most of the things I wanted to say!

            I also want ot add this:

            We can safely assume that, if a manufaturer does something, there is thought and money behind it (well, most of the time anyway).

            Now the biggest difference I see between skins/frontends and OEM systems is the complexity of screens used!

            In FP/MMC/NMC/CF I have the impression there are just too many buttons on one screen! Not only is this a problem for the size of the buttons (they should be at least 1x1 inch), but also you loose the intuitiveness of an oem system.

            I for one would like more menus, as i think it's better if you have to take several short looks at the screen instead of having to look at it for 10 seconds while trying to find AND hit one small button that's amongst lots of similar-looking ones...

            I once tried to create a skin and soon learned that my talents lie elsewhere , so please someone, hear my rant
            List of front-ends/usefull apps
            XTroniC | XTroniC Direct

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            • #7
              I prefer skins to match my car. EG Alpine

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              • #8
                This is how ideal skin should look like, IMHO. With one exception - bigger buttons and less details so its usable on 7" screens.
                Attached Files

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                • #9
                  This is really good information on what FE users actually want.

                  It is good to hear that most everyone wants usability over looks

                  lets keep this going as I am sure quite a few skinners will benifit from this.

                  Originally posted by ddn
                  5) Brightness. I think we really need to keep brightness in mind. The darker skins just don't work in the daylight where an even slightly brighter skin is 100% more readable in the daylight.
                  Has anyone tried a skin with a white background before? and if so was this enough or would you knock the color more down more to a light grey for when glare/sun is a issue?



                  So far the majority whom have posted is calling for less clutter, bigger buttons and simplicity.

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                  • #10
                    I've had the best results with the default MMC skin, with very dark background and bright text.

                    Only speaking colorscheme here!

                    It's just clear that a lot of skins are developped on a 15" or more screen, indoors

                    Fancy backgrounds are useless, you can't even see all those details! Even the glare in the example mpattonm/lagunaice gave, the glare-effect in the center of the background is disturbing!
                    List of front-ends/usefull apps
                    XTroniC | XTroniC Direct

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                    • #11
                      so far the best results I have gotten in the sun have been using the default mediacar skin

                      has anyone tried anything lighter with better results?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LagunaICE
                        This is how ideal skin should look like, IMHO. With one exception - bigger buttons and less details so its usable on 7" screens.
                        That may very well be the worst skin I have ever seen. I have basically no clue what most of the buttons mean. Not to mention they would be IMPOSSIBLE to touch. Also, like someone mentioned, the lens flare/glow in the middle is the worst thing you could do to a background. It fits my criteria of clean, but thats it.

                        In a word: No.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by JC-S60
                          We can safely assume that, if a manufaturer does something, there is thought and money behind it (well, most of the time anyway).
                          Such a great point. I haven't had any time, but the first weekend I get a chance I am going to drive around to some dealerships and scope out OEM systems. Like you said, if they do it is usually because of a LOT of research. Don't let this degrade into a flamefest about how much iDrive sucks. OEM systems usually destroy aftermarket in usability.

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                          • #14
                            I agree with ddn, I think you hit the nail on the head! Functional consistancy and intuitiveness are most important.
                            Unfortunately, these consistent faults are what make me almost completely unhappy with any of the front-ends.
                            Couldn't agree more!
                            I personally feel that Liquid Smokes' L.S. 2.0 skin for FrodoPlayer is the best attempt at functionality (and looks good too!), but Frodoplayer itself is to complicated (too many buttons) for the average user (no offense frodo).

                            I would love to see Liquid Smokes' L.S. 2.0 skin combined with Centrafuse. I think veetid is on the right track with the general layout of a front end - just needs to look more refined. Most commonly used application buttons anchored to the side & player function buttons anchored to the bottom with current song and other information (time, date, network connectivity etc.) at the top. All the while with a window in the center for displaying of playlist, channel (xm) or GPS, selected by operator.

                            First, I think the most common/popular use of our carputers, while driving, is the playing of music/mp3's, radio, xm (hence the FrodoPlayer approach) but not the only use.
                            Second would be GPS. I would like to see a front end/skin that would handle both of these functions together at the same time and to do it simply.
                            My $0.02
                            System:
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                            Gyration RF Kybrd, OBDII adpt. + sftwr, XP pro, iGuidance/Royaltek GPS NAV, XMPCR, Kenwd KAC-8401 4 chnl amp, 10" pwd sub

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ddn
                              That may very well be the worst skin I have ever seen. I have basically no clue what most of the buttons mean. Not to mention they would be IMPOSSIBLE to touch. Also, like someone mentioned, the lens flare/glow in the middle is the worst thing you could do to a background. It fits my criteria of clean, but thats it.

                              In a word: No.
                              This is because it is not a skin for designed for CarPC enviroment. Thats why you probably do not get a clue of buttons. Regarding the size and placement of the actual buttons, I made my remarks to it too. However, the skin is clean, easy to "navigate in", high contrast and its yet "simple".

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