Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 5th Sep 2012 21:10 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces "Copying design choices (use of materials, shapes, manufacturing limitations) purely as aesthetic is toxic, and it’s not design. It misunderstands the very nature of what product design is supposed to accomplish and ignores the true nature of what the product is and what it does." Concise but spot-on criticism of skeuomorphism by Wells Riley. Couldn't agree with this more.
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Comment by AnythingButVista
by AnythingButVista on Wed 5th Sep 2012 21:41 UTC
AnythingButVista
Member since:
2008-08-27

Every now and then you can get a good laugh from some skeumorphism examples. Case and point, the slide-to-unlock UI of this smartphone... REALLY???
http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/09/04/the-pantech-flex-4g-for-att...

Edited 2012-09-05 21:42 UTC

Reply Score: 8

RE: Comment by AnythingButVista
by Drumhellar on Wed 5th Sep 2012 21:44 UTC in reply to "Comment by AnythingButVista"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Hah. That is awesomely tacky.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Drumhellar
by Drumhellar on Wed 5th Sep 2012 21:43 UTC
Drumhellar
Member since:
2005-07-12

Excellent article.

Computers are everywhere, and are frequently becoming more common than the objects that skeuomorphic designs try to imitate. Skeuomorphic designs once had a place, long ago, when computers were relatively rare, and were unlikely to be as capable as the devices they were imitating. That has not been the case in a while.

The way I see it, making a photo sharing app look like a traditional bound photo album is about as useful as making a modern washing machine look like a tub and washboard.

Reply Score: 6

Comment by stestagg
by stestagg on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:02 UTC
stestagg
Member since:
2006-06-03

I think this view is short sighted.

There will always be people who absolutely value function over form, and I respect that view. However..

Good product design involves 4 phases.
1. Make something that works and addresses a need (Prototype)
2. Make it work well (Product)
3. Make it repeatable (Mass market)*
4. Make it desirable.

* In software, 'Mass market' means make it easy to use

Skeuomorphic elements of a product attempt to address part 4, and only part 4. Doing this will only work if the product has successfully satisfied parts 1-3.

Often, examples of 'bad' skeuomorphism are given where the failure of the application falls in the first three categories. If you design a skeuomorphic app, you WILL get it wrong. However, if you add skeuomorphic touches to an already great app, you might just make it an awesome app.

The article about garageband: http://tobiasahlin.com/blog/skeumorphism-and-storytelling/ is an exact example of why Apple have got this right. You can take out all of the design frills from the UI, and you're still left with a usable, well designed app.

The trouble with this is that everyone's sense of design is totally unique. Of my stages above, this uniqueness is most noticable in stage 4. This is where people like Thom are totally turned off from the stylistic choices that apple make. Unfortunately for him, he's in a minority, and you can bet the UX engineers at apple know this, and can prove it. Sorry Thom, I sympathise with your design sense, but you get overruled by the unwashed masses ;) .

As a final example, I recently redesigned a web app under development, that had some serious usability issues. One of the first changes I made, was to add icons. Several of the project managers tried to veto this change because it was 'fluff' and too 'cutesy', but they shut up quickly when two sets of feedback came in:
1. The app became easier to use, and
2. People started engaging with the app more

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by stestagg
by Drumhellar on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:11 UTC in reply to "Comment by stestagg"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Unfortunately for him, he's in a minority, and you can bet the UX engineers at apple know this, and can prove it.

[citation needed]

Seriously, I've heard many more complaints regarding Apple's skeuomorphic choices than praise. Quicktime's volume wheel was universally reviled, and there was much complaining when they moved their calendar app in OSX from a more standard design to a skeuomorphic look. Lots of people complained it was tacky and didn't make sense.
I'm not just talking about people on the internet, but family members who use Apple products religiously.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by stestagg
by stestagg on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:18 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by stestagg"
stestagg Member since:
2006-06-03

[citation needed]


Fair point, I don't have any evidence to back that up. I would counter with the fact that people who have a strong negative reaction to a design choice will always speak up more than those who just appreciate it more. You can never just listen to those who shout loudest in design cases.

Seriously, I've heard many more complaints regarding Apple's skeuomorphic choices than praise. Quicktime's volume wheel was universally reviled,


I totally agree with you about the volume wheel. That was a case where the design failed. But I don't think it failed because it looked like a volume wheel, it failed because it didn't adhere to the 4 steps in my previous comment. The UI control was badly placed, and hard to interact with. pure and simple. Showing it as a volume wheel was not really the issue. Apps like Ableton, and Logic audio prove that wheel-y volume controls can work, and work well. It's too easy to attribute the poor UI design to 'skeumorphism' when the actual problem lies in general design failures.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by stestagg
by MysterMask on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:13 UTC in reply to "Comment by stestagg"
MysterMask Member since:
2005-07-12

+5

A pleasant change to the blind bashing usually seen on OSNews when Apple is mentioned.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by stestagg
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:57 UTC in reply to "Comment by stestagg"
BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

The trouble with this is that everyone's sense of design is totally unique. Of my stages above, this uniqueness is most noticable in stage 4. This is where people like Thom are totally turned off from the stylistic choices that apple make. Unfortunately for him, he's in a minority, and you can bet the UX engineers at apple know this, and can prove it.


Ah yes, the same rationale that gave us such wonderful design elements as faux-woodgrain side panels on station wagons.

Sorry Thom, I sympathise with your design sense, but you get overruled by the unwashed masses ;) .


That's the real problem, iFanboys still like to delude themselves into believing that the Apple products are for the hip, elite folk who "think different [sic]" (well, at least the ones who don't know what adverbs are). But in reality, Apple now chases the lowest common denominator more aggressively than Microsoft ever did.

Mark my words: by the time we get to iPhone 7 or 8, it'll come with coupons for a free double-down, a copy of the latest Flo Rida single, and a ticket for the latest film adapted from an 80s toy franchise.

Reply Score: 5

Skeuomorphism is the easy way IN too.
by steviant on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:19 UTC
steviant
Member since:
2006-01-11

This word has been around a long time but has begun being bandied about as a pejorative against visual designs that some people dislike lately. The truth of the matter is that Skeuomorphism is more than how something looks, but about familiarity.

To dismiss Skeuomorphism is to dismiss things like an on screen Qwerty keyboard (a typewriter keyboard! Wtf?! How quaint!)

We like and need skeuomorphic designs to preserve our knowledge and ability to recognise things. Under close examination one of the things that become clear is that many people think if you make something look boring and unadorned then it can't possibly be skeuomorphic.

The sad truth is that Android, Windows Phone and iOS are all more or less equally skeuomorphic. However some people feel that if you make your designs flat and blue that it can't possibly be considered skeuomorphic. I'm sorry, but that just makes it uninteresting and less engaging.

A true move away from Skeuomorphism would include the removal of everything that's familiar. We have a non skeuomorphic user interface that predates the GUI, it's called the command line. It's still there today in every OS.

Reply Score: 1

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I was at least following your argument until this:

However some people feel that if you make your designs flat and blue that it can't possibly be considered skeuomorphic. I'm sorry, but that just makes it uninteresting and less engaging.


I don't think you understand what the term means. It is not just making things familiar, it is using aspects of one design in another one that by definition no longer needs it to function.

Colors, shading, adding or removing 3d effects, etc. are not design elements at all - they are impressionistic effects. They _generally_ do not involve function, although there are sometime exceptions.

It only becomes skeuomorphism when you use color, shading, etc. to create the illusion that something is actually something it is not.

The poster child for this iCal. The toolbar (that is what it actually is) is made to look like the stitched leather cover over the calendar binding. This isn't simply artistic - it is made to look like a real physical, functional object (which it is not). The torn page, same thing - ornamentation that looks like a physical object, and in iCal it in fact serves absolutely no functional purpose at all - it is purely artistic flair.

Where do you see these kinds of things in Android or Windows Phone? Im not saying there are not some examples in applications, but there are few. And I don't know of many at all in the system apps (especially in Windows Phone).

No trying to be argumentative - just curious if you have any good examples I might not have considered.

Reply Score: 3

BallmerKnowsBest Member since:
2008-06-02

To dismiss Skeuomorphism is to dismiss things like an on screen Qwerty keyboard (a typewriter keyboard! Wtf?! How quaint!)


Except that's not actually skeuomorphism... of course, I would never rule out the possibility of Apple introducing a keyboard that's a skeuomorphic representation of a typewriter, complete with paper jams, correction fluid & a simulated carriage return lever.

Edited 2012-09-05 23:40 UTC

Reply Score: 4

steviant Member since:
2006-01-11

Except that's not actually skeuomorphism... of course, I would never rule out the possibility of Apple introducing a keyboard that's a skeuomorphic representation of a typewriter, complete with paper jams, correction fluid & a simulated carriage return lever.


Skeuomorphic design is about needless elements retained from previous designs, I maintain that there have been non skeuomorphic interfaces in the past, and they sucked. We moved on, and now everything to do with computer user interfaces is skeuomorphic, even Metro and Holo.

If you like it flat, fine. But don't act like most of the elements of UI design couldn't have been done in a way that doesn't include "unnecessary" characteristics of obsolete elements of machinery from a bygone era.

Here's what I call a non skeuomorphic UI -
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c9/Altair_Com...

Reply Score: 1

galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

We moved on, and now everything to do with computer user interfaces is skeuomorphic, even Metro and Holo.


Your have said this twice now. Want to provide an actual example of what you are talking about?

So far you tried to use the on screen keyboard, and that is decidedly not skeuomorphic, not even in iOS... Yes, the button arrangement is the same as a physical keyboard, but that is not a needless design attribute - it is purpose built function. Neither is the spacing of the buttons, or how they are labeled, reaction to presses etc. Nothing about it is skeumorphic.

Now if the buttons looked like physical keyboard buttons, and they visually depressed when you touched them, and they made the click of an IBM Selectric typewriter... But none of that is true.

So what is your example?

Reply Score: 2

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

of course, I would never rule out the possibility of Apple introducing a keyboard that's a skeuomorphic representation of a typewriter, complete with paper jams, correction fluid & a simulated carriage return lever.

Reminds me...
http://kyon.pl/img/21671,wtf,gone_full_circle,iPAD,typewriter,.html
http://kyon.pl/img/21679,iPAD,typewriter,gone_full_circle,.html

Even though I do have a pet dream of finding a classic teletype and hooking it up as a terminal (or maybe even modifying - to act also as a computer keyboard - an old mechanical typewriter that I have, Groma Kolibri; possibly the smallest/thinnest mass-produced one ever: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GROMA_Gromina_aka_Kolibri_ty... - the roll is barely wider than A4 page), the iPad "typewriters" above seem too much into the area of ridiculous.

Reply Score: 2

ziba
Member since:
2009-11-13

That is another good article about Apple UI:

http://www.fastcodesign.com/1669879/can-we-please-move-past-apples-...

Have fun, Tom!

Reply Score: 1

Comment by kurkosdr
by kurkosdr on Thu 6th Sep 2012 22:25 UTC
kurkosdr
Member since:
2011-04-11

"To dismiss Skeuomorphism is to dismiss things like an on screen Qwerty keyboard (a typewriter keyboard! Wtf?! How quaint!)"

This is not skeuomorphism. If the keys had been made to look like keyboard keys, it would have been.

Reply Score: 2