• Nicholas Windsor Howard, 3 years ago

    Hi, Ted. Thanks for reading.

    For those of you don't wish to read the entire article, it's essentially another guy who's upset that Apple doesn't use excessive skeuomorphism in their interface anymore.

    I thought my article made it clear that I intended to do much more than reminisce about past Apple interfaces, but I am sorry if I failed. Would you tell me what "excessive skeuomorphism" means to you? This is not a quip; I am genuinely curious.

    There are some decent points to the article, like the removal of almost all color in the interface...

    Thank you; I appreciate the acknowledgement.

    Like the image below (from the article). The author makes the claim that the new look (on the right side) represents an "aesthetic decay." It's a purely subjective claim, as many such articles tend to be constructed of.

    You are right. However, I embrace the subjectivity of the article's claims. Should designers discuss only what people can measure objectively? I would believe that a boring discussion indeed, missing a vital chunk of what it means to "design" things. Taste, and the motives that give rise to it, reveal a lot.

    11 points
    • Ted McDonald, 3 years ago (edited 3 years ago )

      Would you tell me what "excessive skeuomorphism" means to you?

      Let's use the Time Machine example again.

      Putting aside subjective taste for the moment, the skeuomorphic elements of the icon and screenshot add nothing of value in terms of usability or understanding.

      The main difference in both the icon and screenshot, between versions, is the light speed/wormhole graphics. But those graphics do not help the user understand what Time Machine actually does (browsing through previous file incarnations), it's the staggered windows that play that role. In fact, light speed graphics could just as easily symbolize parallel or forward movement in time, which does not even make sense with the idea of file backup.

      On the icon, it's the backwards and circular arrow that represents the idea of prior file versions. The thick chrome with metal bolts outlining the old icon is meaningless to many people, including myself.

      That is what is meant by "excessive." Its skeuomorphism that is added without solving any problem, which can also be distracting to some or many users.

      However, I embrace the subjectivity of the article's claims. Should designers discuss only what people can measure objectively?

      I don't mind if someone prefers the aesthetic (I do too in certain contexts), but many skeuomorphic proponents tend to treat flatter design as an inherent loss in clarity or function, which I think is simply not true.

      6 points
      • Nicholas Windsor Howard, 3 years ago

        Putting aside subjective taste for the moment, the skeuomorphic elements of the icon and screenshot add nothing of value in terms of usability or understanding.

        I will debate this point. Apple understandably chose the metaphor of a time machine for looking back in time at one's system. Nearly everyone, let alone just those using a Mac, already "knows the drill" with the concept of a time machine. Apple, utilizing this fact, reinforced the metaphor with their historically/fantastically derived interface and icon. If the old interface and icon looked as they did primarily to reinforce a widely-understood metaphor, why decontextualize them by removing the main features that identified them as parts of a "Time Machine"?

        The thick chrome with metal bolts outlining the old icon is meaningless to many people, including myself.

        It seems clear to me, as it evidently seemed clear to Apple in 2007, that the bolted chrome refers to the fantastical image of a time machine. This fact means the chrome is not meaningless. If you have other arguments against the chrome, I remain intrigued, but meaninglessness is not one.

        That is what is meant by "excessive." Its skeuomorphism that is added without solving any problem, which can also be distracting to some or many users.

        If you do not mind my asking, what about the Time Machine skeuomorph would distract anyone from anything?

        I don't mind if someone prefers the aesthetic (I do too in certain contexts), but many skeuomorphic proponents tend to treat flatter design as an inherent loss in clarity or function, which I think is simply not true.

        With all respect, I am not "many skeuomorphic proponents"; I am me. I certainly do not treat flatter (even utterly flat) design as an inherent loss in clarity or function, although a dogmatic flat-only approach does shrink the designer's toolbox. Simply browse my website, which I designed, to see that I do not disown flatness. Flat elements, with a few exceptions, dominate my site. If I thought flatness necessarily led to an inherent loss in clarity or function, I would have designed my site differently.

        3 points
      • Nicholas Windsor Howard, 3 years ago

        If you want to present a weak skeuomorph, consult the old design of the Reminders application. It featured a charcoal-colored, leathery background with a dubious connection to any useful real-world concept or object. Time Machine was a useful skeuomorph in that its design reinforced its central metaphor, thereby aiding its users in understanding it; Reminders, however, referred vaguely to reality without a well-chosen metaphor to support the reference. Its leather-ity was meaningless.

        (Find My Friends had equally meaningless leather, and it too could have benefitted from a better metaphor.)

        3 points
        • Cecil Lancaster, 3 years ago

          Hm.. just to play devil's advocate on this particular comment, I would say that the leather look & feel of the Reminders app was a reference to physical carry-sized notebooks, probably something of a 'classier' executive/business styling.

          For Find My Friends, the reference there was to more of a picnic-style motif -- almost "summer campy", if you will. The thought being an outdoors outing with family/friends.

          Not saying I prefer these looks, just thoughts from where I personally see the creative origins stemming from.

          1 point
          • Nicholas Windsor Howard, 3 years ago

            Thank you, Sir Devil; I think you make reasonable suppositions here. Neither of those possible creative origins had ever occurred to me. Evidently, though, Apple chose more recognizable motifs in other formerly skeuomorphic applications, such as Notes. In my mind, the yellow notepad is unmistakable.

            0 points