Skeuomorphism User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition
Skeuomorphism: Concept Definition
Skeuomorphism is a term most often used in graphical user interface design to describe interface objects that mimic their real-world counterparts in how they appear and/or how the user can interact with them. A well-known example is the recycle bin icon used for discarding files. Skeuomorphism makes interface objects familiar to users by using concepts they recognize.
Skeuomorphism is related to what ecological psychologist James Gibson termed “affordances.” Affordances refer to action possibilities of objects or other features of the environment. The most commonly cited examples of affordances include door handles and push buttons; their physical designs inform users that they can be rotated or pushed. Skeuomorphism represents affordances in digital user interfaces. It fits with our natural interpretation of objects—but in a digital world.
Skeuomorphism’s use in making interfaces more familiar and thus easier to use stems from the early days of computing and mobile computing. For instance, early versions of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS, used skeuomorphism heavily across its user interface (e.g., buttons resembling glossy ‘real’ buttons, photos with white borders looking like physical photographs, etc.). Skeuomorphism in iOS was widely regarded as part of the reason it was so intuitive to use by people who had never used a touch-based smartphone before.
It has been widely debated, however, whether users have become so accustomed to interacting with graphical user interfaces that skeuomorphism is no longer necessary. Opponents of skeuomorphism argue that natural-looking objects can make an interface look cluttered and that some of the objects mimicked in skeuomorphism have become obsolete and meaningless to users (e.g., the floppy disk for the “Save” action). Proponents, on the other hand, argue that humans can never become as accustomed to the digital world as we are to the physical world—so, simple skeuomorphism will continue to be helpful.
For your convenience, we’ve collected all UX literature that deals with Skeuomorphism. Here’s the full list:
My Head Hurts! Cognitive Friction in the Age of Mobile
There’s nothing more annoying than when things don’t function the way we expect them to. When we develop user interfaces (UI), we try to relate it to the “real world” – think the floppy disk for “save” in most applications. Why? Because we take our cues in the digital world from ones we’ve already developed in our ordinary lives. Cognitive frict...
Skeuomorphism is dead, long live skeuomorphism
Skeuomorphism has been a very useful concept in design, then it became the most hated concept in design, and then it came back from the dead. Understanding skeuomorphism lets designers help users through learning curves and make decisions as to whether skeuomorphism still serves a purpose today.Skeuomorphism is where an object in software mimics...
How to Create an Intuitive Design
“The main thing in our design is that we have to make things intuitively obvious,” the founder and former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, explained. We can easily agree that design should be intuitive. We can also easily agree that something is intuitive when we can use it without thinking about it. Making a design intuitive is much tougher. Solving t...
Flat Design – An Introduction
With the dawn of personal computing skeuomorphic design became important to introduce users, unfamiliar with technology, to new concepts. Skeuomorphism takes a simple approach – it creates lifelike affordances in user interfaces (UI) that the user can relate to from their real lives. Thus when you delete a file – it goes in the trash can on scre...