Apple designers reportedly divided over use of skeuomorphic UIs

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  • Reply 101 of 122


    I'd just like to chime in and say I do appreciate the skeuomorphic design! I don't think it's a form over function argument, I believe Apple first gets the function nailed, then adds icing on top by making it beautiful. I think it requires a lot of design and programming to make a skeuomorphic design both look and function well. I don't see this as a regression in interface design, but a new tool at a UI designer's disposal. Immediately, without knowing what app she's in, my grandma can recognize what iBooks is.. a collection of books that she can read, organized on a book shelf. I see no issue and fear that this article could prevent an otherwise good iOS design element from being released in the future. 

  • Reply 102 of 122
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,213moderator
    elroth wrote:
    Now it's cuteness, which is very close to tackiness (like the Game Center above). It's discouraging, not only because of the skeuomorphism, but the direction of Mac software in general - less choices, less usefullness for professional work.

    I hope the software designers listen to Jony Ive and not Scott Forstall. 

    There's a balance to be had though. I don't think anyone would argue that the shutter effect should be removed from the camera app, the Braun design from the calculator, the pins from the maps, the bubbles from iMessage. Similarly nobody would anticipate the Mail app changing into a front door with a letter box and mail pours into it onto a virtual floor and you have to sort the pile. We have representations of trash, sounds when you recieve mail like a letterbox clatter but it very much has its own identity (which other people now copy as it has become the familiar UI for electronic mail).

    They should have a set of guidelines drawn up with their design team and go through their past UIs to see what works and what doesn't and note down what designs have become iconic and use that to determine how they should design future UIs.
  • Reply 103 of 122
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member


    Personally, I really don't have a huge problem with it.  There are some advantages to skeuomorphic design that can improve the user experience.  Sometimes it goes a bit far (like the leather print or wood grain) but in most cases it's a visual queue to the user that helps explain or give a clue to the program's functionality that is much easier to understand than reading a user's manual.


     


    The iBooks App's home-screen.  The books are all lined up on what looks like a bookshelf.  Seriously what is wrong with that?  It's a nice visual queue that tells you what's going on and how to use it.


     


    I like that the calendar app allows you to flip the pages between months.  It wasn't that way in the original iPad version but i think using multi-touch gestures across multiple native apps is more logical.


     


    Personally, I think it's really the techies that are the biggest opponents to this.  The concept of skeumorphic design has been around since the ancient Greeks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skeuomorph)  and in most cases it does it's job.  I think this has to be one of the reasons why Apple's software is so user-friendly.  Most non-Techie user groups actually like that these apps have a resemblance to something tactile.

  • Reply 104 of 122
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post



    I understand what they're trying to say about skeuomorphism but for the love of god please don't ever go the direction Microsoft is now. Instead of images that suggest anything at all, Microsoft has replaced everything with colored squares. That makes it impossible to understand what anything does without stopping and reading text. Simply terrible. I'll take a "cute" interface over a grid of unidentifiable sameness any day.


    I totally agree with you.


    I like that MS has chosen to streamline their UI but the colored blocks have no delineation between each other.  There's no over-riding concept behind why the blocks are colored.  I've talked at length about this in other forum posts.  What MS needs to do is have a concept behind the colored blocks.  Perhaps it's based on color associated with the function?  I'm not sure if that would be any more successful but at least it would be a start.

  • Reply 105 of 122
    antkm1antkm1 Posts: 1,441member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by qualar View Post


    Out of interest which of these do people prefer?


     



     




    I like the look of iCal, but I prefer the functionality of Google Calendar.

  • Reply 106 of 122


    Originally Posted by qualar View Post





    See, they've taken "the best design is as little design as possible" to heart… they've just decided to do NO design.

  • Reply 107 of 122
    I'm on the fence about it. I think the "embellished" interface has its place, especially if it helps to create focus or improve context. For example, I don't have a problem with a little 'eye candy' or visual indicators like these to set similar apps apart more effectively…

    However, it's one of those things that can VERY easily be abused or over-used or just inappropriately applied. I don't think the argument isn't so black and white, universally use or don't use. It will sometimes be absolutely appropriate and cool to use this design approach given the right context… but it's always on a case-by-case basis, and I think should be applied in a minimal way. The conversation should really be more an if->then scenario… if yes, then how far to take it?

    Not too far, in any case… that's just my opinion though...
  • Reply 108 of 122

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post




    See, they've taken "the best design is as little design as possible" to heart… they've just decided to do NO design.



    Grow up.

  • Reply 109 of 122


    Originally Posted by qualar View Post

    Grow up.


     


    Thanks for showing there's no intelligent rebuttal to what I've said.

  • Reply 110 of 122

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post



    I'm on the fence about it. I think the "embellished" interface has its place, especially if it helps to create focus or improve context. For example, I don't have a problem with a little 'eye candy' or visual indicators like these to set similar apps apart more effectively…

    However, it's one of those things that can VERY easily be abused or over-used or just inappropriately applied. I don't think the argument isn't so black and white, universally use or don't use. It will sometimes be absolutely appropriate and cool to use this design approach given the right context… but it's always on a case-by-case basis, and I think should be applied in a minimal way. The conversation should really be more an if->then scenario… if yes, then how far to take it?

    Not too far, in any case… that's just my opinion though...


     


    To push this a little further… I don't particularly LIKE the stitching on the calendar app, but that's not because it's "poor design", it's because it doesn't appeal to my aesthetics at all… Still, I also question the value of it. I think ALL of an interface should serve some purpose… in this case, it says "I'm a desk calendar"… OK, maybe a bit too loudly.


     


    A good example of skeuomorphics used right and applied well (in my opinion) are found in apps like Garageband… 


     


    I think it would be cool to eventually have interface options with apps like Calendar and Reminders, etc… Plain or decorated? These are utilitarian, typically 'desktop' type apps… some people really like the visual reference to the real-world version, others prefer the clean minimalism of iOS/OSX… I'm on that side of the fence, mostly. But again, it's not black or white. Sometimes, it's a good thing to dress up the apps this way...

  • Reply 111 of 122

    See, they've taken "the best design is as little design as possible" to heart… they've just decided to do NO design.

    I played with Windows Phone Nokia thingy today. No idea what was going on. It's really way too minimalist.

    So... What have we learned here? Balance.

    There should be enough "reality" for you to know what's going on, but not too much as to be indeed, mastubatory. The Podcast app is a prime example. When it first came out it was laggy and buggy as hell, but hey, we had a nice tape spooling thing... Because, podcasts, are like, from the 60s... Or something.
  • Reply 112 of 122
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,980member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by auxio View Post



    Another negative point is that it also bloats apps because they need to include multiple versions all those texture images for different resolution displays.


    How is it a bloat if the user never knows about it?! It is true that every apps needs two resolutions (in case of universal app you need four) but that is not a big problem for user. It is a little bit more work for developers though.



     


    The user knows about it by how long it takes to download/update an app which has a lot of texture images.  Especially if it's happening over a bogged down cell network or otherwise poor connection.  The also see it in how long it takes the app to load on startup.  And I have no doubt that some crash-prone apps are running out of memory due to use of many large texture images (and not paying attention to memory warnings).


     


    Obviously most users don't know that it's the large images which are causing these problems, but they experience them nonetheless.

  • Reply 113 of 122

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post



    I understand what they're trying to say about skeuomorphism but for the love of god please don't ever go the direction Microsoft is now. Instead of images that suggest anything at all, Microsoft has replaced everything with colored squares. That makes it impossible to understand what anything does without stopping and reading text. Simply terrible. I'll take a "cute" interface over a grid of unidentifiable sameness any day.




     This is my problem with the new AppleTV OS (which I finally, accidentally, downloaded 2 days ago).  It's *harder* to find what I want because there are this ginormous colored blocks with small text underneath -- so when looking for "Podcasts" I can't simply look through a short list of words like before, I now have these colored blocks vying for attention, many with icons or logos that hardly relate to their content.

  • Reply 114 of 122

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post





    Originally Posted by qualar View Post





    See, they've taken "the best design is as little design as possible" to heart… they've just decided to do NO design.



     


    Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster, I'm agreeing with Tallest!

  • Reply 115 of 122
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,437member
    I think that developers who don't like skeuomorphic design don't like it because they are so invested in their virtual life, they no longer relate to the real world, as ordinary people do.

    While there are plenty of bad examples of skeuomorphic design, that's true about any design. It all depends upon how well it's implemented.

    My feeling about Apple's latest OS designs in general is that they have been removing all elements of style and design. Mountain Lion seems bare and generic to me.

    All GUI designs have elements that don't serve functionality. The point was to serve ease-of-use and ease-of-training even if meant giving up some functionality. To this day, it's far easier to rename files (as just one example) in MS-DOS than it is in OS X or Windows.

    The opposition to any skeuomorphic design reminds me of the days when it was said that "real men don't use word processors - they use text editors" and that any GUI (as opposed to command line UIs) were for children.
  • Reply 116 of 122
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,663member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoetmb View Post



    To this day, it's far easier to rename files (as just one example) in MS-DOS than it is in OS X or Windows.

     


    ??? You are going to have to elaborate on that one.

  • Reply 117 of 122


    For me, skeumorphism works if the original they are emulating is attractive to begin with. Case in point, the calendar interface in Lion with the faux stitching. I could never imagine having such an ugly calendar on my REAL desk, much less on my computer desktop. 


     


    The calendar interface in Mountain Lion, on the other hand, is much nicer to look at.

  • Reply 118 of 122
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,213moderator
    For me, skeumorphism works if the original they are emulating is attractive to begin with. Case in point, the calendar interface in Lion with the faux stitching. I could never imagine having such an ugly calendar on my REAL desk, much less on my computer desktop. 

    Yeah, I'd have said the following calendar style is more common:

    1000

    but they'd have to put the buttons on top of the binder to avoid wasting space. They could have the pages flip up and down vertically that way though. Leather would be seen in a calendar book/diary but not that brown colour, maybe black or blue and faint stitching if any.
  • Reply 119 of 122
    Storm in a teacup, and any nerd who highlights this as a reason for Scott Forstall's departure is a pseudo-literate idiot.

    Skeuomorphism is just about approaching the end of its run, that's all. It was magnificent in its time, especially with the new touch-screen-smartphone idiom plus App Store as coined by Apple in 2007/2008. It jogged the subconscious of the uninitiated non-nerd and coupled with gestures, helped her easily navigate the new technology and fit it into her busy life (ever notice nowadays how many girls bump into you in the street walking along and staring down at their touch-screens?).

    It has also helped sell a lot of Macs, whose sales unlike those of the classic iPod (non-skeumorphic, remember?) have not only held up but increased modestly.

    So yes, it's time for a new direction. But frankly what should Jon Ives have to do with that? I suppose we shall see. I hope it's good, and a true advancement.

    I'm still heartbroken at Scott's departure, and nothing will change that...
  • Reply 120 of 122


    Originally Posted by airmanchairman View Post

    Skeuomorphism is just about approaching the end of its run, that's all. It was magnificent in its time, especially with the new touch-screen-smartphone idiom plus App Store as coined by Apple in 2007/2008. It jogged the subconscious of the uninitiated non-nerd and coupled with gestures, helped her easily navigate the new technology and fit it into her busy life (ever notice nowadays how many girls bump into you in the street walking along and staring down at their touch-screens?).

    It has also helped sell a lot of Macs, whose sales unlike those of the classic iPod (non-skeumorphic, remember?) have not only held up but increased modestly.


     


    Hmm. I disagree. As long as there are materials, as long as humans have a sense of aesthetics, and as long as we have physical fingers, we'll want something comforting. Something familiar where nothing is. That's important to us, intrinsically. It assists with comprehension. And it's also part of why we name everything we come across.


     


    If you can tie it to the physical, it can be understood. If it can be understood, it can be used. 

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