I miss Skeuomorphism

Skeuomorphism is the design concept of making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts. (Examples)

Im in Windows → Chrome → WordPress and almost all of the shadows, gradients and rounded corners have been eliminated.

These are buttons.
The tiniest possible shadow and rounded corner. 1px each.

I miss buttons that had heft and affordance that screamed Click Me.

Mmmm. Skeuo!

The Nielsen-Norman group recent published a study that found significant reduction in task completion because of flat design. I know design fashion is a real thing that makes a difference, but I think flat design has had its time and now we need to bring back rounded corners, shadows and gradients. Bring back affordance!

Affordance is when an object’s sensory characteristics intuitively imply its functionality and use. (More detail)

I am not proposing something ugly, but we need to move forward. The number one thing to start with is shadows. Shadows provide enormous hints to the information architecture and drag-ability of an object. It creates layers of information. Enough with the 1px thin line. Let’s see some real separation of layers.

Take it all the way

Sometimes I hear the words “clean, classic, modern, fresh” and then I see “flat, white, undifferentiated, boring”. I see low task completion rates.

Well, bottom line…I miss that 3-dimensionality. Blur the lines of digital and physical. Keep it beautiful, but experiment.


2 responses to “I miss Skeuomorphism”

  1. bennadel Avatar

    I’m on the fence about the whole flat design movement. I like simplicity; but, I just don’t understand some of the choices. The one that comes to mind is the “ripple effect” when you click a button. Why would a button ripple when you touched it? This is like a misaligned skeuomorphism. I don’t need a ripple feedback to know that the _thing I just touched_ was touched. Have it move a tiny bit (as if depressed). Sure. Change color a bit when activated. Sure. But nothing about the ripple effect makes sense to me.

    1. Glen Lipka Avatar
      Glen Lipka

      Part of it comes from the technology. With css3 you CAN ripple, which means it will be a fad for a little while. Designers always want to utilize the newest technology.

Whatya think?

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