Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Skeuomorphic design is a difficult to spell buzzword for an easy to understand concept: in the UI world, it's making virtual things look like their real world counterparts. Sometimes it's just window trimming, sometimes it's the core of the interface.

Here's a brief rundown on the thing. Apple has been a big proponent of this flavor of design, to some people's rant-tastic dismay. I agree that the leather-ette look is pushing things a bit, but I'd like to hear Apple's side of it. I assume the hoi polloi must dig it, even as the fanboy elite sniff.

an image making the rounds
If you don't go crazy with it, by and large it's an aesthetic decision. (In some cases it can help instruct a user in the use of an unfamiliar interface, but other times you're stuck with the limitations of whatever the physical device is. So from a usability point of view, it's probably a wash.) Personally I prefer the opposite approach as championed by Microsoft and their sense of Authentically Digital, shunning most of the chrome and gratuitous shading of many other design paradigms.

UPDATE: James Higgs rips into Apple for the use of this style, calling it infantile kitsch... I like any discussion of interface that can invoke the author Milan Kundera...

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