Below is a list of six items with a perceived art / design oopsie attached.
- Unique Window Decoration Styling. If red, yellow, and green gems speak OSX, boxy outlines with the square and x inside speak Windows XP. While our culture is loaded with individuality and unique personality, our outward design manifestations are rarely anything but mimicry, and this move is symptomatic. A completely ridiculous design decision can be easily remedied with Rico St. Cruz's unique Dust theme.
- The Window Title's Story of Bold and Clunky. I won't go and repeat my principle of FreeSoftware design clunk. It manifests itself quite frequently in subtle things such as typography. From type selection to design, we like our awkward and heavy "outline, outline, outline, bold, then outline again" approaches, as seen with the Tango icon set. Somewhere, we confused bold and awkward with legibility. Take a page out of Bringhurst and walk away from awkward geek toward a middle aged elegance. Turn the bold, massive titling down to standard Roman minus the massive drop shadow.
- Palette. We probably need to start with an audience and a conceptual view of the computing space, but alas, that might be a lot longer coming. At a bare minimum, take an agreed upon anchor tone and round it out into a full blown palette triplet. Provide a wine pairing for your entree with a compliment or a split compliment. This move would help to avoid the traditionally stifling monochromatic trend as well.
- Composition. There are still some people, often completely outside of photographic or artistic circles, that would try to argue that perfect symmetry is a good thing that connotes balance. Practically, center punching photography and artwork only screams to the world that you failed your grade three art class. The culprit - the default desktop wallpaper. Use classical composition or asymmetrically balanced designs.
- Typography. While closely tied with (2) above, we could easily gain a few more glints of elegance by toning down the "in-your-face" largeness of presence. A few bumps of point sizes across the entire platform sands the coarse surface into a more refined state.
- Harmony. While tightly tied with (3) above, we can see an overall discontinuity between the loading xsplash and the rest of the desktop's presence. Tighten up the palette across the story line - the loading screen, the default desktop, and the logout. We aren't in need of claustrophobic monotony and the hobgoblin's consistency, but rather a sensible harmony for the experience.
That's it. Nothing entirely radical. Nothing entirely insurmountable. A baby step in the right direction perhaps, and something that Canonical could implement overnight...