A good example of this was brought up by Josh Clark in his talk at Swipe Conference a few months back: the Address Book app on the iPad. The main interface is an open book, but you can't swipe through pages like you're actually reading an address book. In fact, if you swipe in the middle of the right page, you're going to swipe on a contact's field and then a delete button will pop up! Trying to swipe from page to page (like you would if this design mimicked the real object's affordances) could actually be a destructive action.
The design of Classics for iPhone and, later on, iBooks is skeuomorphic and resembles an open book, but you can (mostly) treat the app as if you would a book using similar actions. This is an example of skeuomorphic design that actually works. It looks and works like the real world thing it's emulating.
Bad skeuomorphic design simply looks familiar, but the user experience takes a wrong turn as soon as you start to use it like you would use the real thing. Bad skeuomorphic design can actually deeply harm the user experience because it builds up a false trust with users.
However, using real-world textures, patterns and materials like leather, tartan, glass and aluminum in your app interfaces just to spice it up a bit does not necessarily mean you're designing in a skeuomorphic manner if these items are used purely in an ornamental sense. An app like Find My Friends that looks like a baseball glove obviously isn't made to replicate a baseball glove's functionality, it simply uses some stitched leather textures from the real world. This doesn't mean it's a skeuomorphic interface but it does, in this case, mean it's ugly. The secret is to use realistic patterns and textures sparingly, not drop them from the sky all over the screen.
For every one designer pointing out flawed and unnecessary ornamentation in iOS, one hundred non-designers, normal people, are tricked into thinking they understand something new.
But this is violated as soon as that person walks up and tries it and the thing doesn't work the way they thought they knew it would.
Skeuomorphism can help when used properly. If something looks like a button, I know by metaphor that pushing it will do something. What's really tragic about Apple's recent use of skeuomorphism is that it often doesn't make any metaphorical sense, and is also horribly ugly.
But I think we should move on. The people that need skeuomorphism as a crutch are dying out. The new generations are growing up with digital interfaces. We're artifically limiting what we can do by simulating physical things.
Here's my first attempt at thinking about what the implications of wholly embracing the digital medium are: http://blog.byjoemoon.com/post/9325300749/a-different-kind-o...
But I still don't think it goes far enough. I think there are certain conventions that make sense for a handheld device with a touchscreen. What I talk about in the blog post is for desktops, though. I think for ergonomic reasons, a display that's separate from the input device is necessary for 'real work.' From that starting point, there are a lot of wholly digital ideas that can make computing a lot more powerful and productive if we embrace it.
Point is, that happens after they've paid for it.
No, I still don't like it, but the thesis in the article makes sense.
More examples: Calendar for iPad. (Leatherette buttons? Really?) Notes app. (Marker Felt makes me want to throw up.) Contacts.
That’s aesthetics, not UI design.
I think someone with a high position in Apple's iOS app software department just really likes that leather look, and people are reading way too much into this. There are cases where the skeuomorphism is appropriate, such as the striped yellow notepad or the wooden bookshelf in iBooks, but Apple has clearly extended the use of these themes beyond where they make any kind of logical sense, making them simple arbitrary aesthetic choices.
It would be interesting to see an A/B test of the leather UI and a standard iOS UI — something that looks exactly like Google Maps with Latitude on top of it, for instance.
I'd be willing to bet that the leather UI is better received by users. The app is divulging a core aspect of privacy but it certainly manages to look friendly doing it.
Indulging in objectively bad design in the short term to appease technically inexperienced users isn't a solution, it's putting a band aid on the infected wound of inconsiderate UI designer.
For more on that line, I wrote about it a few days ago http://designedbygold.com/2011/10/the-metaphors-breaking-the...
Off the top of my head the reasoning is because that demographic have paid the majority of there debts, kids have left home etc... The other main demographic is 20-30 people before they have locked in mortgages and are busy spending money on looking good trying to find a partner.
With that on board your statement is incorrect because you probably have another 10+ years before the metaphor starts to break down.
The next issue is the rebirth of kitsch. The hipster movement. People who are openly rejecting technology for a sense of realism. They are reinjecting the metaphor to a generation where it should be dying.
What you might find is your design is targeting the central demographic where there is no money to spend, and Apple is targeting the older and younger where the money is, and as I noted above where the metaphors do make sense.
Heres one I found in a quick google: https://www.aarpglobalnetwork.org/netzine/TrendWatch/northam... but TBH you might as well search the topic yourself if you have a real interest.
Anyway it makes logical sense though when you think about it, and there is plenty of evidence if you watch TV or open magazine. But here is an overview:
The school age people, although highly influenceable don't have spare cash mainly because they don't have a job (or just a part time job). So thats roughly your 15-25 group, you can sell them cheaper more fashionable items. Music has always been a real winner here because its cheap and fashionable.
The next major bracket is 25-35, people who have there first jobs, no real debts, and are trying to settle down or impress others. You can't really sell big ticket items here because they are often saving for a house or something, but medium range stuff you can.
between 35-50 its a wasteland, people have priorities that trump marketing, kids, mortgages etc... You won't see a lot of advertising targeted to this group unless its to do with kids or household items. Car manufacturers target this bracket a bit I think, but really its to much of a hard sell when there is easy money else where.
The next group is the 50-65, these people who suddenly have there lives back. Not a hugely impressionable group but will really splash out on the big ticket items. New cars, expensive holidays, this is where the real money is. Need a computer? buy something top of the line.
I remember hearing 45-55 chucked around a lot in meetings, this would be the mid life crisis bracket. More or less the same bracket as the 50-65 but I guess more impressionable due to the fear of getting old.
65+ it changes again because health starts to become an issue. Priorities start to trump.
So theres only two demographics with money 25-35, and 50-65. With the 50-65 being the real spenders.
Apple historical has had a majority 50+ user base, but recently has started selling very well in the 25-35 bracket. Co-incidence? I think not.
Emotional Design by Don Norman - http://www.amazon.com/Emotional-Design-Everyday-Things-ebook...
(summary of above - http://www.curledup.com/emotionl.htm )
Example: At WePay we don't use skeuomorphism in the UI except for receipts and tickets, these are parts of the app that have a real world analog and we want to stress that these are the valuable results of a transaction that should be held on to.
In the end you have varying degrees of metaphor in UI design, this is just one of them...
When I open iCal (in the cloud or desktop), my focus rests naturally on the actual calendar because the texturing puts all the settings in the background. I like that the calendar itself is elegantly centered on the screen. I like that it has only settings I'm likely to use and that menus I use less the calendar selection column) are completely out of the way.
I don't have any problem using Google Calendar, but it's flatness annoys me. The calendar is lumped into the bottom of the screen, which is kind of an odd de-emphasis of the most used element of the app. The banner and many controls I don't use all the time have the same dark hue as the current week. Search is disproportionately (for my calendar usage, anyway) prioritized in terms of screen space. The whole left column (with the garish "create" button and a mini calendar) is basically useless.
Yeah, Apple needs to go easy on the leather (surely something could be more consonant with that silk texture), but ultimately Google has a lot more to learn from iCal than vice versa. And I think iCal actually shows, albeit imperfectly, that texture does have its place.
It's extremely difficult to understand what Mayan tablets mean because we don't understand the symbols. This is why things like a rosetta stone are so important, because they give us clues as to what symbols mean.
Every symbol is evaluated in the context of the individual.
Designing an interface with no 'skeuomorphisms' would be extremely difficult, it's arguable that roman letters themselves are 'skeuomorphisms' of the requirements originally for stone tablets. An interface with no skeuomorphisms is like a person who no one can relate to. It's the difference between learning a new language and learning a new word in a language you already know.
"Good" designers have their own symbology so designers who are trained find other "haute" design easy to use. Since most people aren't "haute" designers it becomes difficult to relate to and use their designs.
There's a great article out there about a hotel that installed really well designed light switches that no one could use but everyone loved once they figured out how to use them. "Haute" design is like C4, it has huge activation potential to overcome but once you overcome it, it's explosively powerful. However, the activation potential is a hinderance to adoption.
"Since most people aren't "haute" designers it becomes difficult to relate to and use their designs."
It's easy to judge how realistic or beautiful a face is, but much harder to draw it. Similar concept with design.
I think you're making a fundamental assumption that design/drawing/visual disciplines are symbol-based, when they are not symbol-based.
I highly suggest reading "Drawing on the right side of the brain". I've studied art, and in every drawing class something along the lines of "No, symbols are bad, boo egyptian eyes, switch to the right side of the brain" was said at some point.
I will say that I prefer iBook to the reading app I actually use (Kindle, since I'm in Amazon's ecosystem) - I find the subtle border and gradients on the edges (and a handsome color scheme) more pleasing to the eye than the flat "text on a plain background" that I see in the Kindle and Google Books apps. Done right, texture and shadow can subtly draw the eye to the most relevant section of a screen. To me, the flat interfaces that the anti-skeutomorph people seem to admire are unnatural and decidedly uneasy on the eyes.
If iCal worked like a real calendar, skeuomorphism would have value, but in its current form, it's just an ugly skin. It doesn't actually show users how to use it.
Read about it here:
Skeuomorphs are non-functional, by definition.
What does it even mean that "most people have shitty taste"? I guess it's easy to agree with that on an emotional level because taste is so varied. There is always bound to be a large number of people that you don't agree with in taste. That is completely subjective though, those people will probably find your taste shitty.
I'd argue that designers should stop overreacting to this though b/c few are innocent of using typefaces in a nostalgic way from time to time.
Does anyone know what the purpose of the Maple syrup handle is?