Don’t need no stinking themes

I just noticed that there’s no way in GMail to change the look & feel or even the colours of the screen elements. Seeing how every recent UI, web-based or not, offers themes or skins, even for dead simple stuff like forums, somehow it struck me that GMail doesn’t have it and that I never noticed it, I think I always expected it to be hidden somewhere deep in the config options. Does that mean we don’t need themes for a successful UI? Maybe they are even a factor to make a UI less successful?

GMail is definitely regarded as a successful interface and is complimented a lot, together with Google’s picasaweb, googlemaps, etc. The stock look & feel is not bad but I guess it might not fit in with some people’s overly-themed desktops. Somehow though, it seems nobody misses the theming (I don’t). There’s a couple of Firefox add-ons called “GMail skins” but the ones I’ve seen don’t do what you would expect, they let you add or remove content from the main screen, but tend to stay in the limits google’s stock theme. Do themes stink? Clutter the UI? Did I overlook something?

Let’s see what GMail 2 and further new toys bring.

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