Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2012 17:05 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Tobias Bjerrome Ahlin, an interface designer at Spotify, is a big believer in skeuomorphism. Whereas Apple is a strong advocate of this design concept, Microsoft is clearly moving in the exact opposite direction, while Android is in the process of moving away from skeuomorphism entirely, to a more digital experience. As a passionate hater of skeuomorphism in UIs, I found Ahlin's examples to be a bit weak.
Thread beginning with comment 515015
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
Skeuomorphism is a phase
by tessmonsta on Fri 20th Apr 2012 20:35 UTC
tessmonsta
Member since:
2009-07-16

Thinking about this, there's actually good reason to have skeuomorphism in a application UI. For users that are unfamiliar or intimidated by computers, having a UI that familiar to a physical object that they are likely already familiar with lowers the fear factor and encourages more use. We as experienced computer users tend to forget how often people can be terrified of "breaking" their device just because they wondered off of a known and familiar path.

While you do make valid points about OS UI consistency, the mindset above already has to deal with vastly different ways of interacting with physical objects already. OS UI consistency matters less in this mindset than do keeping things familiar. When skeuomorphism wasn't so popular, we heavily relied on UI consistency to keep us grounded until we mastered the interface. Skeuomorphism simply takes that perspective and points it outward to the physical world instead of the digital one.

There's a big problem with looking at things like this.

It won't last.

While growing up we may have used something like a tear-off calendar, or a legal pad to keep notes, there is an entire generation of users that never have used these physical objects. They've used the digital counterparts only and have much less of a barrier of fear as do older users. As use of these physical object falls away for their digital counterparts, we run into the flaw of skeuomorphism.

Skeuomorphism isn't a fad, or infantilizing, it's a phase.

You know, like your parent's used the phrase, "It's a phase". Replicating physical objects in digital UIs helps the most people who are familiar with the tear-off calendar or legal pad. The younger you get it becomes "cute", or "fun", but that supposes that they even know those things exist. In a world where someone has never seen a tear-off calendar or a legal pad, it just becomes noise that unnecessary bloats up the application.

Apple is desperately clinging to user friendliness and the crowd that would find skeuomorphism enjoyable. Eventually, it'll become the better choice to drop these concepts because they get in the way of using the machine. WinPho7 and Android are already doing this. I suspect that with time, impersonating physical objects will hold less and less appeal with iOS devs.

Reply Score: 7