Icon & Graphic Specification for Ubuntu
A great deal is made of the attention to detail paid by Apple software engineers to the user interface in Mac OS X. The plethora of sites dedicated to emulating the Aqua interface on any OS one cares to mention is surely proof of this.
Steel-effect windows & Expose aside, from a designer/programmers point of view Aqua is the first successful attempt by an OS vendor to streamline, and hence refine the product by putting into place a strict set of guidelines governing the design of every element of the user interface.
How does this pertain to Ubuntu/Linux?
The fundamental end effect of such consistency is, as Apple endlessly tells us is that the software ultimately behaves like any other passive appliance, leaving the user to get on with whatever they're trying to do.
Many linux veterans agree that Ubuntu is a particularly compelling and refined distro, given its short life so far, but users migrating from Mac often feel that the chaotic array of graphics & buttons get in the way of common tasks.
Action to take
In an environment where MS and Apple collectively spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on UI development, it is clear that Ubuntu must rely much more on feedback from testers to evolve the way it interacts with the end user.
[more to follow]