Last week was a victory against skeuomorphism (a design element of a product that imitates design elements that were functionally necessary in the original product design, but which have become ornamental in the new design) as Apple’s executive shake up resulted in Scott Forstall, the SVP in charge of iOS leaving and Jonathan Ive’s domain increasing from SVP of Industrial Design to include Human Interface, i.e. UI & UX.
Forstall deeply integrated skeuomorphism into iOS such as adding spiral binding to the notebook app, wooden shelves for iBooks and a fake leather to the top of the calendar app – with no material benefit to user experience. There are even design folk within Apple who believe that skeuomorphism has significantly degraded the user experience.
A great article on Neowin.net states that UX professionals are realising that skeuormorphism is a tool that works for entertainment and visual impact but often not usability:
Applications designed using this approach will quickly look out-dated and suffer from a lack of UX innovation, due to their reliance on real-world objects. It’s great to have a little familiarity and fun in an application, but what we need are applications that are functional and easy to use. Computers are here to make our lives easier and more productive, they aren’t simply tools to shrink down and emulate real-world products.
The designer Yves Béhar, best known for designing the Jawbone states that “Using reality as a visual metaphor for the user interface rather than make the UI function on its own terms is something that has irked me for quite a while.” (source FastCoDesign)
Ive is reportedly not a fan of skeuomorphism and his skills as an industrial designer which encompass the totality of a user’s experience (not just the physical design) should make iOS products far more of a human focussed experience – after all design spawns from use which manifests from UX – and help to increase Apple’s brand equity to become the world’s highest value brand ahead of Coca-Cola.