Skeuomorphic web design style

Analysis & Showcase



What is Skeuomorphism?

Skeuomorphic web style is a design trend based on the concept of associative recognition; to make the represented items resemble their real-world counterparts. By utilizing visual elements that remind observers of real life objects, skeuomorphism aims to create a sense of familiarity. To some degree, skeuomorphic style reminds us of Photo-Realism web design. Skeuomorph comes from the Greek skeuos (meaning container or tool), and morphê (meaning shape). Wikipedia defines Skeuomorphism as: “an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material". This style is utilized in many fields (e.g. architecture, ceramics, interior design), and has been applied to material objects since 1890. Examples are copper cladding on a zinc potter, fake wood grain paneling in cars, or wood finish on a plastic object.

How Skeuomorphism is applied in web design?

The skeuomorphic design trends in GUI (Graphic User Interface) and web design area were once a popular trend. For instance, the icon used on most smartphones' display to represent the phone function was a skeuomorphic icon. It was designed to look as much like a telephone as feasible. As another example, some websites look like real books; the users can turn over the pages of these websites. Besides, they can even hear the sound of turning pages. Before 2013, Apple's products (like iBooks, Calendar and iPad Notes) were concrete examples of using skeuomorphic style in IT industry. There were a strong debate over the merits of Apple's extensive use of skeuomorphic designs and it was argued that Apple had gone too far — had advocated this technique at the expense of more screen space than standard. Furthermore, it argued that skeuomorphic interfaces lacked creativity and potentially hindered innovation for providing more efficient ways of performing tasks. In 2013, Apple ultimately made a shift of preference towards greater simplicity and carried out major redesigns in some of its products. It released iOS 7 featuring Flat UI design elements, moving away from skeuomorphic design. Flat design is in real contrast to Skeuomorphism.

Is Skeuomorphic web style good or bad?

So what is the conclusion? Is skeuomorphism a good idea for website design or not? What are good skeuomorphs? What are bad skeuomorphs? The fact is: While skeuomorphism has positives, they can also have some drawbacks. When applied genuinely based on the target audience's/consumer's state of mind, skeuomorphism is a good mean in order to effectively create a sense of association. However, if skeuomorphs are used just for the sake of familiarity, it is not okay. Skeuomorphism is a useful tool to facilitate users' transition into new mediums. We know that web design is not such a new medium anymore. Therefore, skeuomorphs should be applied in web design based on functional reasons rather than familiarity factor.

Furthermore, we know that when a certain web design style becomes very popular, it becomes increasingly overused and misused. When they become just other copies of already overdone skeuomorphic elements, then we are facing a problem; an inappropriate web design. Skeuomorphic web style seems to be heading in this direction. In recent times, we have seen much of Skeuomorphic web design projects using following items: wooden textures, torn-off page edges, stitched ribbons, leather borders, the ruled yellow legal paper, etc. Enough is enough; it is time for more creative designs in this area!







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