Explain why skeuomorphic design is bad

Discussion in 'iOS 6' started by Foxdog175, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. Foxdog175 macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2008
    I've been seeing in the news lately that Forstall wants to push this specific design feature and Ive is completely against it. I guess I don't see why it's bad to have software replicate real-world visuals.

    Take iCal for example. What would go in place of the stitched leather and torn page bits? A gray bar?

    I kinda like the idea of skeuomorphic design. It breathes life into the apps imo.

    That said, I honestly don't care either way. I just don't understand what the big deal is and what the alternative would be. Can someone explain to me why it's such bad design? I don't need to see the lipstick-on-a-pig quote...I've already read the article; I just fail to see why anyone is making such a fuss over it.
  2. gmanist1000 macrumors 68030


    Sep 22, 2009
    I think because it's not consistent. Lots of iOS's core Apps don't look similar.
  3. sjinsjca macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2008
    It's a matter of taste.

    Parallel example: the Comic Sans font. Let's face it, it gets the job done. It's reasonably readable and contains all the necessary letters to communicate. But it's an eyesore and a sure mark of a loser with abysmal taste and low regard for his audience.

    Skeuomorphism is not bad by itself; after all, iOS's icons are made to look like buttons, which are a familiar way of saying "mash this and something happens." That's skeuomorphic-- skeuomorphism is all about harkening to the familiar, non-digital predecessors of user interfaces. Nothing wrong with that. But a calendar festooned in baby****-brown faux leather? A florid green game center that looks like a croupier's table? ...eh, maybe not the most pleasant ways to express "here's a calendar" and "here's where games are played" in a comfortably familiar fashion. That's the taste aspect.

    But as in all things, critics need to quit bitching and propose something better.

    And, again, not all skeuomorphism is automatically awful. I rather like the page-turn animation in iBooks, for example. Let's not throw the familiar, intuitive, comforting interface baby out with the skeuomorphic bathwater.

    Ultimately: it's the functionality, not the wrapper, that I like about things like Calendar. I wouldn't stop using Calendar just because it has the faux leather. I do wish I'd have a choice in how it looks, and I would invest the 30 seconds to switch to something else if Apple gave me the option.
  4. Claefer macrumors regular


    Jun 1, 2011
    I don't think it's inherently bad. It has its functional uses. I think Ive was one of the designers of the iBooks app. But it's a problem when it comes at the expense of usability, when it becomes a distraction.

    Sometimes it's better to come up with a whole new UI concept that users will have to learn rather than mimicking real-life counterparts that users are already familiar with.
  5. gmanist1000 macrumors 68030


    Sep 22, 2009
    I love the iBooks design, it's perfect for what it will be used for. Game Center though.... I hate it. I don't like the colors or the buttons at all!
  6. Claefer macrumors regular


    Jun 1, 2011
    Completely agree, love, love the iBooks interface but I despise Game Center. I'm not sure which is worse: the green felt or the marbled navigation and tab bar.

    And according to this it seems Ive and his team have been designing UI for a while: http://www.patentlyapple.com/patent...iles-45-ipad-ui-design-patents-in-europe.html
  7. Foxdog175 thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2008
    I will agree that the game center is ugly...I've never liked that. Thanks for the discussion.
  8. VacTacks11 macrumors member

    Aug 24, 2009
    Gizmodo is down right now (guessing Sandy related), but when it comes back up, Google Skeuomorphic Gizmodo.

    They have a few articles on why it's bad. From what I remember, it boils down to the touch and feel of a leatherbound book doesn't translate to the screen, and therefore it doesn't make sense to do it.

    If I can't touch leather, why have it on the screen? The same goes for the red bookmark in the Address Book. The whole reason for it is to mark a page for quick reference, but by sight only. That doesn't translate to the touchscreen.

    Anyway, those articles (I think Engadget may have articles on it too) do a better job of explaining it than I did.
  9. canucksfan88 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2007
    its cheesy and ugly.

    They destroyed iCal with the ripped paper and the leather banner. Same with contacts. what are we doing...going back to the web 1.0 era and clipart?

    the major problem is that pretty much every other aspect of iOS and OSX is clean and slate/silver.

    i for one will be happy to see that go. maybe they can finally get rid of the ugly iOS dial pad. or make everything consistent. (which they messed up in iOS 6)

    see dial screen, and compare it to camera, and music
  10. zbarvian macrumors 68010

    Jul 23, 2011
    It's not inherently bad. Some argue (and I agree), that we are moving to a world without these physical objects, and so replicating them is very superfluous and cheesy. Also, it is often over-designed, and they are far chunkier designs.

    Seriously, though, the next generation will never have seen an address book or a leather stitched calendar, why are we modeling designs after them? The future of software design is perceived to be flatter and more minimal. I personally like some skeumorphism, but in general I wouldn't advocate its continued existence.
  11. ajvizzgamer101 macrumors 65816

    Mar 3, 2008
    United States
    I'd rather my note app look like a pad of lined paper than text on a off white screen.
  12. wordoflife, Oct 29, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2012

    wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Personally, I think it looks better without it.

    But seriously, on iOS 6...
    Why did they change the UI? It's horrible.

    Why is the dialing pad white?

    Why does the menubar change colors "randomly". Shouldn't Safari have a blue menubar instead of black, too? And shouldn't notepad have a yellowish one? It's such a mess

    Why was the iPod(even App Store) bottom buttons changed? Every App in the OS has a unified look, including third party apps, and it's just a MESS now. Email and App Store looked similar in a sense, now they're totally different. What gives?


    The buttons on the bottom looked washed out and dull compared to it's predecessor. Regardless, besides the UI colours, scrolling sideways takes SOO long. On the old menus, you had "momentum" when you scrolled, now you have to go one by one. Such a downgrade.

    There are so many other things that I could point out, but the question is:
    Why did they do all of these little BS updates without making a proper OS? It runs like garbage on my A4 devices, and for what? A new UI that's ugly anyways? Why if they're going to release a few major updates, it can't work properly?

    Honestly, I really dislike iOS 6. I still have 5 on my 4S. However i think it's a bit unfair to blame it all on Forstall. Why didn't anyone else double check the progress? If they did and ignored it, then it's not just his fault. If they didn't, then they deserved it.

    tl;dr skeumorphism isn't bad but it's was not being implemented properly and is being favored over more dominant issues.

    iPhone used to pride itself on the uniformity, fit, and finish that it had. You can't really say the same anymore.
  13. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    Subjective -- same as bad/good/better/worse/etc are on any topic. If you don't think it's bad then how do you expect others to convince you otherwise? Your preferences are your own -- not everyone else's.

    Design isn't universally perceived one way or another on any topic. For any given design you'll find fans and detractors. There are just a number of those that are very vocal about their dislike of the skeuomorphic design in IOS. Skeupmorphism itself isn't inherenlty good or bad just as any design approach isn't.

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