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

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by stestagg
by Drumhellar on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:11 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 Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by stestagg
by stestagg on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:18 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 Parent Score: 2

RE: Comment by stestagg
by MysterMask on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:13 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 Parent Score: 1

RE: Comment by stestagg
by BallmerKnowsBest on Wed 5th Sep 2012 22:57 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 Parent Score: 5