We are charged with the redesign of a cross platform (Windows, Mac and
Linux) application. From data we've collected, we know about 93
percent of users are Windows users, 6-7 percent are Mac and the
remaining 1 percent are some flavor of Linux.
The application was originally written to have a native look and feel
and users have been used to that for the past 6 years. We have moved
onto the visual design phase and we are torn between going completely
native, or doing a non-native feel across platforms.
Certain windows applications like Picasa have a non-native look and
feel, but they can get away with this very easily because it still
follows a lot of windows conventions like the primary color being a
shade of grey and using soft borders around buttons, etc...
Then you have the polar opposite like iTunes on windows or even more
extreme, some Adobe Air applications like eBay desktop, where the
look-and-feel deviates so far from the platform it just feels awkward
to use it. What I find interesting is that web applications have a
non-native look-and-feel (gmail, facebook, etc...), but they are no
less usable and don't feel awkward to use. Maybe it's because it's
wrapped in a native browser?
Does anyone have any research or experience about the usability of
non-native look-and-feels across different platforms?