This really isn't a blunt question, but rather a request for more of a dialogue on interface design. It doesn't have to be too terribly involved, but there are a few things I need to know.
First, here is my situation. I am working with VB .Net 2003. I've created a windows application that's pretty cool and could be reworked into a pretty darn good program. My issue is that I have no taste for eye candy--that is, I'm horrible and coming up with it or derriving it from scratch. So, I have the basic, plain, depressing gray background on my form with gray buttons and black text. The whole application is depressing. I know there is a tremendous amount of phsycology that goes into gui making, such as using soothing colors and making the interface fun. My issue is I have no clue where to begin.
I'm not looking to become a graphic artist or anything that involved (though I suppose this is inevitable if I'm the only one working on this, eh?). Are there any tutorials on this sort of thing that merge the act of graphical design with programming? A look that I'm trying to create is something akin to Lavasoft's Ad-Aware. Their interface is extremely slick. I would wager a guess that it wasn't coded in vb .net, however, but I still think a similar look can be obtained.
Bottom Line: My application looks hideous. Where can I go to get the programing know-how to tune up the colors and such and make it, at the very least, aesthetically pleasing. I know graphic artists and programmers are, sometimes, two very different animals; however, I think there is an overlap, that even the artistically challenged can do something in this matter. Did that make sense? I am interested in commercial solutions as well as free solutions. Free solutions would, of course, be most preferred.
Wow. That was a mouthful. I could really use the help of you experts on this. A good program with a bad interface is a bad program...it's that simple.
Thanks in advance!