3. Better theming
There are 5 different themes you can adjust in Xfce: the window decorations, the GTK+ interfaces, the cursors, the notifications, and the icons. Many designer provide matching themes and icons, ie. the complete package. Numix and Paper projects feature complete theming and the Shimmer Project themes that are a good match to the Elementary icons.
If you picked a flat icon theme, then you are best of using a flat desktop theme as well. There are many options, Numix being a good one. Paper is also good, but currently their color scheme is a bit broken for the Xfce's panel - you can work it around by defining panel color manually.
I chose the Moka icons which do not come with complete theming, so our choice is Greybird from the Shimmer Project. It is also the default theme of Xubuntu. Now the Moka icons and Greybird may not be a 100% match, as they are separetly developed projects, but they are in the same ball park. They both feature slight gradients and very subtle depth, which makes them nearly flat but not as dull as a totally 2D solution. Install from AUR enable in Appearance and Window manager's settings.
yaourt -S xfce-theme-greybird
4. Desktop arrangement
By default Manjaro uses a single bottom panel layout. One of their team members said that it is a statement for the users of Windows and it makes to some extent if you want to lure in new people to the world of Linux. But again we can do a whole lot better.
1. Move the panel to the top.
Sure, you can argue this as much as you like, but you know what - those Apple designers are not complete idiots and actually use a bit a science.
Most desktop applications have their menus and buttons at the top and very little functionality at the bottom of the user interface. By moving the panel to the top you reduce your average mouse travel distance in between the application menus and the panel features.
I cleaned up the panel quite a by removing all the ugly icons from the right hand side. Consider adding your most frequently used applications to the panel in order to always have immediate access to them, but keep the number to the minimum. I just added Chrome as an example.
2. Install and configure Plank dock
Next we install a simple dock to the bottom of the screen to provide quick application launching and some window control capabilities. This way we have a single click access to the most commonly used applications. To install simply:
sudo pacman -S plank
Add Plank to Xfce's auto starting applications so that it starts on boot and add your favorite applications to the dock. Also disable dock window shadows from Xfce's compositor settings or you'll see a weird shadow line accross your screen.
3. Find a better wallpaper
The wallpapers provided with Manjaro are mostly useless low quality images and their contributors have a weird habit of stamping a large Manjaro logos everywhere. Now the wallpaper is a matter of personal taste and preference, but there are some useful guidelines for best results.
- For sharpest results use a image that matches you display resolution.
- Avoid too much fine details, text or anything that would catch the eye. A good wallpaper is complementary, never distracting.
- Use calm and not overly bright colors.
The web has a gazillion wallpaper images available, so your options are limitless. The name Manjaro apparently comes from the Mt. Kilimanjaro, in Africa. It is a popular tourist attraction, so I search for Kilimanjaro wallpapers with my native resolution 1440x900 and found this (and many other awesome photos).
After all these tweaks the desktop is starting to look pretty good, but there are still many tweaks we can apply. To be continued.