The final word on skeuomorphic design

Seems like everyone is against skeuomorphic design.

Three arguments in favor of skeuomorphic design:

  1. If Steve Jobs thought that texture and depth were the right choice… maybe they were. Steve Jobs had better taste than most people in history.
  2. Texture and depth are more “real” than flat design (and certainly better than cluttered, chaotic design). It is no secret that Jony Ives (and Steve Jobs) admired Dieter Rams. And some people point out that Rams’ design language was “flat”. But Rams designed products with depth—real, 3-dimensional objects. Maybe, when designing 2-D interfaces, depth and texture are better.
  3. I’ll call this point, “This is Better Than That.” Pick the one that is better designed (you can click the image for a larger view):

Evernote vs Notes
evernote - notes

Word 2010 vs Notes
(I know that Word has a zillion more features than Notes, the point is that Word is [has always been] criminally ugly.)
word 2010 - notes

Outlook Calendar vs iCal
(I have written about Outlook before.)
outlook- ical

Gmail vs Mail.com
(Mail.com is not obviously skeuomorphic, but it has subtle depth.)
gmail - mail online

Word 2004 toolbars
(I include this only as a warning. A terrifying warning.)
word_toolbars

Conclusion

Maybe skeuomorphic design is good. Maybe “real” textures and faked depth are good. Maybe skeuomorphic is better than the alternative. Maybe “flat” design is so clean it loses the connection to the user that Apple strives for.

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One comment

  1. You… and Steve Jobs are right… there is no contest. In my opinion, Word is not only criminally ugly (what’s up with that?), it is criminally complicated and user unfriendly; and 8 is not an improvement. How do I know? I have a PC with Word. Oy vey.

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