Let’s quickly check with Wikipedia: “A skeuomorph is a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues from structures that were necessary in the original.”
So far so good. But heed the details, the important bit is the past tense. And the word “original”. What is the “original” in our days then?
Perhaps an alien like the first iPhone back in 2007 needed these real world references just to get it’s point clear. And yes, our yellow stickies (now revitalized in the Scrum methodology, what a surprise) have had such a vast impact on our daily office routines and habits that they somehow earned a place in Skeuomorphism’s eternal hall of fame, let’s face it. But then again: there is no such things as Multi- or Force-Touch in the analogue world. Neither is Cloud Computing or 4G. All that does not really blend well with retro look’n feel and other shadows from the past, it just generates this awkward feeling of being stuck in between two colliding timelines. Also – besides all philosophical debates – do we really have space to waste on these tiny little screens which we fill with increasingly complex services and delicate user interactions? Or how about the next generation of mobile users who have never dealt which a strange object like a leather bound notebook and grew up with Apple Notes right away? The app becomes the original then and completely eliminates the analogue equivalent together with its usage patterns and physical entities which we still tend to refer to.
But don’t underestimate the effort and discipline it takes to go completely flat. Don’t we all love our little folders and hierarchical structures on our high end SSDs? This is where it starts. Or the pretty redish envelope for Gmail, even continued for Google Inbox, just open and blue this time? Check out Google Calendar’s and Contact’s Rolodex-icon, that’s true sixties-style. Even I have never come across a physical Rolodex in real live and believe me, I have seen strange things out there. True, an envelope is a fantastic way to communicate “this app will probably deal with email” in a very sharp and distinct manner and there’s nothing wrong with it. A Rolodex is worth discussing for my taste.
We finally made it to 2016. This is – as one solar year equals five Internet-years and ten Mobile-years – ninety years after the first big thing in 2007. Who of us would even think about referring to ninety year old technical standards? Just google how cars or trains looked, felt and worked ninety years ago. Nice for collectors and enthusiasts, but definitely nothing for the daily commute. And this is what modern UX is all about – making the commute as easy going as possible, no frills, no distraction. High speed, straight to the point and no drop shadows. After all, it’s about that easy. And this is what especially apps are all about.
So don’t even think about dropping back into the old world, walk tall and continue giving digital and mobile media their very own identity. And make the mobile world a better place – without the smell of leather. It’s about time.
By Florian Bliesch
As Head of Mobile Florian Bliesch is responsible for all mobile activities of ING DiBa within IT Business Services. His in-depth industry knowledge over many years and project experiences in the fields of media, telecommunications, financial services and insurance make him a sought after expert in the European mobile scene. Focusing on the financial industry for the last few years his expertise includes concepting and producing banking apps on all major platforms, also mobile and multi channel strategy development.
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