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 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

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