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Look and feel for different applications from same company

Hi all,

We are in the middle of developing a server application. People from business unit think our application should have the same look and feel as the other portal application. The portal application is Java based, ours is .net ASP application. Based on your experience, do people expect the same look and feel for applications from the same company?

Zhen Lee Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Generally, yes.  If it's all web-based stuff, this should mostly be CSS driven anyway.
KC Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
It depends on what the applications do.  Generally, yes... but if one product is a simple fluffy $39 "consumer" version and the other is a slick pro $100,000 "enterprise" version, you may want to create a separate style to give the pro product a separate identity.
Marco Arment Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Thanks for the replies!

If we were to do css, is there any issue(besides compatibility issue among browsers) we need to aware when design pages, or can we let css take care of all at the end.
Zhen Lee Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
You'll need to design your pages with a stylesheet from the very beginning if you want it to be truely effective. You don't have to nessecarily (sp?) use the style sheet that you'll ship with but you'll need something to use when designing the pages.

Just like anything else, effective use of CSS requires a good design. Identify like-elements that will share a style, etc.
Shane Harter Send private email
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
I agree with the general thrust of the replies so far. People do expect consistency and it can be difficult if you are using a different tool kit. I have just completed a project building a complex interactive site in ASP.NET but it was expected to have the same look and feel as a hand crafted HTML "portal" with lots of static pre-built graphics for fonts and such like. It can be done but it can be tedious work getting it just right.
Mike Griffiths Send private email
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Hire a web designer, get them integrated into the team early.  Let them work out the UI and plan for design. 

CSS is an implementation detail, just as ASP.NET or JSP are implementation details.
Lou Send private email
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Also, if I'm a user using both of your products I expect to see not only a consistent color scheme and font choices, but also menu options, wording, verb tenses, pop-up style, etc.

The greater the level of conisitency in your applications the easier it is to pick up a new one.  If this one operates differently in a fundamental way, what happpens when you roll out the 10th app that works differently?

This is an opporutnity, not a problem.
Lou Send private email
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
I might stay consistent with things like branding (colour choices and logos), but to me look&feel also has a lot to do with functionality, which doesn't transfer as well across applications. For example a pro application would stress fast access to most functionality, and generally maximizing efficiency. A consumer app would stress ease of discoverability and "intuitiveness" to your typical lay-person.
If your appplication is a web app, I would do what somebody suggested above, and get a web designer involved as soon as possible. When I say "web designer" I mean somebody who has both artistic talents and "design" talents. In fact, in my work we usually have at least 2 people involved in the core team, one who is more an artist, and one who is more a designer (product) type person (that's me).
Garth Shoemaker Send private email
Friday, February 10, 2006

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