Theming Gmail: Make G-mail look better

A lot of talk has been going on ever since Google decided to change the design of all its web services. Not many care about google+ etc, but when it comes to how gmail looks, people certainly care. Last week, I came across this post by Jason crawford where he shows us what his gmail inbox looks like. Crawford states in his post:

Reports are coming in from around the Internet that the Gmail redesign, which we were previously able to stave off with “revert to the old look temporarily”, is now forcing itself upon us. I too have succumbed to the new design, and have been forced to find ways to cope.

Unlike him, I personally like the new ‘layout’ better than the old one. I say ‘layout’ because I am perfectly ok with the flow of the interface, but not with all the white space and red ‘call to action’ buttons. That blood red compose button in gmail is always annoying. Moreover, all that white space is also not pleasing to the eyes. I have overcome all these niggles through some simple steps.

Switch to cozy view

Under the gears icon in gmail, three different view options are available. Comfortable is too spacey and compact is too cramped. Cozy is the view which strikes a balance between the two.

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Switch to the blue theme

Under the gears icon, go to themes and select the blue theme. Trust me, there can’t be a color more pleasing to the eyes than blue. For one, its not a distracting color and helps stay focused. Also, the blood red buttons and white space is gone in this theme.

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Before/After

Screenshots of how it looked before and after..

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Before..

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After..

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This is just my personal opinion about gmail should look. If you have customized your gmail in a different way, let me know in the comments.

Metro Twit: the twitter app for windows that is visually rich and delightful to use

Let’s face it. Good looking apps are hard to come by on desktops and esp. Windows in general. When it comes to twitter apps, there is a sea of them on almost all platforms. And each app tries to make a mark by introducing new features and some go unique through their design. Metro Twit does the latter. Its more about the design and less about the features. Lets keep the best for the last and talk about some new features first.

Undo tweets

This is the biggest features of all, and one of my favorites. Undoing a tweet doesn’t mean deleting it. Its an equivalent of editing tweets. When you undo a tweet, it deletes the tweet first and takes you back in time so that you can edit it and resend it. However, I found that it lets you undo only the most recent tweets. I am not sure how long recent is here, but it seems like it won’t let you undo tweets more than 20-30 mins old. Still, its a pretty nifty feature and a godsent one for those who fire off tweets without giving it a second look.

Columns, filters ,image previews and Multiple accounts

Columns aren’t new in Metro twit but it feels more polished to use in the new version. There are enough options that come with columns . You can re-size, rename and manage notifications for the columns apart from Pausing updates, refreshing them and a few other standard options. Filters also work the same way as they do in other apps. There’s global filters and account filters. Image previews have a small issue . Even though image links open inside the app, you cannot view thumbnail previews in your timeline. I couldn’t find a switch in the settings to enable that. Not a big issue, and maybe the developers thought it won’t fit into the metro UI and will make it look cluttered. Next is Multiple accounts. Adding multiple accounts is very easy and quick ( they have a dedicated button to add more accounts). Its a new feature in Metro twit but the sad part is that its supported only in the Pro version. The Pro version also removes the ads which appear in the free version.

The Design

As I said, Metro Twit is less about features and more about the design. Metro is one design language I love a lot, and MetroTwit oozes with Metro. I still wonder how Microsoft’s designers could come up with a design which completely relies on words and typography and yet be so good. With the final release of Windows 8 fast approaching us, Metro Twit is already in line to be called as one of the more established metro apps out there. I look at MetroTwit and Metro in general as a chocolate bar embedded with raisins. There’s something to be discovered in every bite and the end result is a delightful experience. There are some nice words thrown all over the app which greets the user whenever an action is performed. Here’s an example of what the app says when you change the theme of the app:

No peeking 😉

There are plenty of places where you will find the app playing with words, but that’s just a part of how good Metro UI is. Everything from the icon to the various elements used, its all about simplicity and elegance. That said, the app’s UI could get too busy at times, when there’s too much happening and a lot of those delightful words are flying around.

Conclusion

MetroTwit tries to cater to both casual and power users and succeeds to an extent. There’s still a lot of scope for improvement as power users will find some features like scheduling still missing. Its a great app, especially for those who love metro apps. Also, its no slouch, as its fast and sleek. Metro UI takes some time getting used to, so please give the app some time to impress you.The app used to be buggy earlier, but it has shed all that baggage and is in its best avatar now.

Those of you who don’t really like metro, but love twitter, should check out my post on the Top Twitter clients for windows and mac.

Re-designing Google talk

Thought that Google talk needs a cleaner, newer look. I have  tried to provide quick access to important actions through this design. Here’s my attempt to make it look better.

 

Firefox Dashboard concept

While menus in browsers are now available under a single button, menu items are still displayed in a dropdown list. This concept of mine presents a solution where users click one button and are taken to the dashboard where all settings , history, bookmarks,addons etc are available. It also enables users to search across them. Now menus are easier to use and in one place.

The UI outside dashboard. (click to enlarge image)

 

Dashboard UI

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