I have been a long term user of skype and I am very dissapointed with the new layout.
I studied Software Design and Development for 2 years. Part of my course was learning ergonomics for computer usage and interface/screen design.
This new version of skype has several issues:
- Too much blue: "In fact, blue light causes greater eyestrain and fatigue than other colors. It is harder for the eye to focus and causes greater glare and dazzle effects. It can also interfere with our internal body clocks, disrupting sleep patterns. Some researchers believe that even very low levels of blue light during sleep might weaken the immune system and have serious negative implications for health." http://texyt.com/bright+blue+leds+annoyance+health+risks
I know that blue is Skype's main color, but putting shades of blue behind messages in the chat area is a bad idea (referring to the bubbles). This makes it harder (especially for those vision difficulties) for people to clearly see the messages. The bubbles also reduce the amound of messages you can see on the screen at any time. Also, you don't need to have a persons avatar popping up on every message, that is really annoying, and that's the reson why you have their avatar in the contacts menu.
- Not enough white space: There is way too much clutter in the new skype. The new contacts menu looks terrible. Making profile images circles and putting the online status in an even smaller circle next to it makes it really hard to see at a glance who is online. The older UI of skype where the status was next to the uncropped profile image and username of the person was much better.
The chat interface is horrible. We don't need bubbles to read messages and know who they are from. The old UI was much better where it has the names of the person to the left of a line of messages. You may think that's it's better to make skype "consistent" across platforms... Well, no. That is a bad idea. Remember how people responded to Windows 8? The same thing will happen to Skype. You will lose customers if another service just as good as Skype exists.
- Large icons: The new large icons take up too much space (the call icons). The Green call buttons were much better, because they had the words such as 'call' as well as the icon. Someone new to a program does not automatically know what a button does, without the text saying what it is they can be confused. I know you are just matching what you use on the mobile version but it is unescesarry to do this on the desktop version.
Overall what I'm trying to say is that an easy to use interface is better to use than a "modern" look that is actually just eye candy. Functionality and ease of use is better than something that is hard to use. I won't even say that it looks good, because it doesn't. The new layout in my opinion is simply terrible.
I hope you seriously consider my feedback and the feedback of many other users. The best option I think you can take is going back to the old UI system or having a skin option where you can choose the old UI interface. If you include this option, it should be listed under settings and on first install the user should be asked what interface they want to use.