Username or EmailPassword
I recall those candy-lock in KDE3 and before that this ugly box-lock and then there was plastik, better but still not ideal. I did not make KDE my desktop of choice cause of the default style but cause I was able to change it and everything else to what *I* think is best for *me*. I am in the middle of the desktop and not the other way around. The desktop needs to adjust to me and not me to the desktop.
Everytime I had a look at the KDE desktops of others it was all changed. From the wallpaper, to the colors to the styles and decorations up to the position of the panel. With KDE 3 and 4.
I found it near to impossible to find there a common pattern. If 50% of all your users change the panel from bottom to top and if you change the default to top and only 10% change it back to bottom then you have a point in selecting top as default. But how common is that? How common is it that such an analysis is done and such clear results are gained? Its more like 5% prefer that, 5% that, 5% don't know, 5% like both, 5% like neither of them and so on. Some even change there preference by day, night and mood. How do you end with something that everybody feels being great defaults? You cannot. What you do is to *decide* and there always will be someone who does not like that decisions. Do not try to label it as a solution if it isn't.
The problem with an approach like design first is that its WRONG on any level you can think of. First its figure out what your users like to have, make a concept how to reach that, verify you are not off and only then implement (design and code since design IS an implementation and not something abstract). The difficult part is not the design but the steps before. That is where lot fail already. Those that just ignore that steps are usually also those that believe only there taste is correct and all others are wrong. Typical ghost-driver claiming all others need to change. Edited 2012-08-02 14:21 UTC
Configurability is not in conflict with having good defaults.
I am all for being able to change the wallpaper, the location of the panel, or to switch to *another* good theme. Still, the default look should at least be readable (no gray fonts on grayish&transparent background), usable (not all visual bells and whistles have to be on), and toned down (so you don't feel embarrassed when your co-worker looks at your newly installed desktop).
Also, perhaps more importantly, a large part of look&feel comes straight from the design and is not configurable, even in KDE. You can't correct inconsistent padding, overload of widgets, or poorly though dialog box layouts. I don't say KDE should follow Gnome in that, but *some* attention to details would be very welcome (yes, I occasionally use some KDE apps).
I found the default colors readable and do not see a gray font on a gray background. For my taste the colors are even to much toned down and I usually change the colors from Oxygen to Norway, a more friendly color theme. But I also did note some even prefer a more dark theme like Magnesium while others chose other color styles. In any case using the same color for font and background is a bug I did not note so far. You have a screenshot?
I also found visual bells and whistles to be rather balanced. For example KWin has lots of effect plugins but very few are enabled as default.
There are things which can and should be improved. No question there. Same applies for all projects, not only KDE. For paddings and margins mismatches look for example at http://www.sharpley.org.uk/node/23 and http://agateau.com/2010/12/27/common-user-interface-mistakes-in-kde... (two KDE hackers) and for ugly dialogs at http://techbase.kde.org/Projects/Usability/HIG/Dialogs (the KDE HIG for dialogs with sections like "Reduce the dialog flood" and "Dialog Layout"). Everybody is welcome to help to get that target done faster. Just join and contribute. Edited 2012-08-02 19:01 UTC