Hello all my new internet pen-pals!
Thanks to R/GA, H&F-J, and a few other kind tweeteroos, the word has spread far and wide about skeu.it. I truly appreciate all the kind words and am happy to provide some laughter at the expense of others’ hard work. I’d also like to thank the big skeu rift article in FastCo yesterday for getting bad skeu as a water-cooler topic, as that led to people finding out about this blorg. Lastly, thanks very much to those of you who’ve been submitting and contributing. You are making this better than I ever could on my own. Please sure to include your @handle or url so I can give credit!
I’ve received much incoming communication about it, and would like to address some stuff wholesale while I have the opportunity. So, onto the goods.
People using linen and wood isn’t skeuomorphism, it’s skinning. Ergo, this isn’t skeu, and you’re dumb.
It is unnecessary, misdirected parroting of the initial intentional visual treatments that were proper skeuomorphism. Aside from the handful of people who actually knew the term five years ago, everyone just likes feeling smart by saying “skeuomorphism.” Holding the attitude of “I’m smart enough to say what is and isn’t this word I only learned two days ago” is silly, so stop it and go argue about what is and isn’t “user experience” instead.
Skeu makes things visually distinct, so users remember that your app is the one with the linen and the leather
While possible in isolation from competition (e.g., there are no other weather apps like WTHR, therefore we all know it as “that beautiful Dieter Rams Weather App”), this doesn’t hold up for the mainstream. If your app’s distinctiveness was bound to its visual aesthetic and purpose in a manner uniquely and inimitably different from others, it’s true. But it’s the exception, not the rule. And to be clear, that does not mean your better stitchwork or more realistic leather will differentiate.
Check out the Fast Company article on the skeu rift at Apple! Isn’t that awesome?
You know, not really. Anything I say further will devolve into disappointment about journalism, ethics, and corporate pride.
People who complain about skeu are just jealous they aren’t as good
This argument is known as a fallacy of false cause.
It’s how the voice in my head sounds when I/we write the captions. Sentence case would come off as snarky. I’m shooting for oafish, loud, and stupid.
You should be providing meaningful critique
I do! Just contact me privately!
Some of the best designers I know, people whose Photoshop illustrative skills I will never have, personally sent in some of their own work for submission, because they have enough confidence to have fun. In one case, a product manager sent in his team’s work to celebrate the launch of their app. Just yesterday, two indie devs submitted their own work with their own captions. Humility is a beneficial trait. As someone who routinely presents work that doesn’t get the response I had hoped, I can assure you laughing about it is pretty fun.
LOL HIPPOCRAT U USED A SKOEUOMORPICT THEME!
It’s a default theme that ships with Tumblr, and it’s perfect for many reasons, both in its literal obviousness and its symbolic meaning (to me, personally). My first exposure to this new trend was working with a junior designer who insisted on graph paper, torn edges, and leather for an app that had no connection to any of those visuals. And swore by his Field Notes. So, now you get it, and can quit whining about it on Reddit (1, 2).
My coworker wants me to go over the top and make it much sillier: impossible shadows, picture frames, etc. I don’t have time, but I’m happy to use another (and give credit!) if someone wants to make a completely ridiculous theme for this.
If there is any good evidence why I’m a hypocrite about skeu, it’s this, from my work at Mint.
Skeu is stupid
No way! Not when it’s used well. iBooks was the cultural gateway drug for multitouch tablet accessibility. People take this for granted. Amazon’s digital future book machine (despite being actually a pleasure to use) looked like a big calculator with Mac OS 8 on it (whoa, that’s a Newton!). Apple came along and said “hey, average consumer, do you know how to use a book? Cool, that’s how this works too.” It taught people to swipe, pull, and explore the UI through familiar visual cues, leading to them attempting to repeat these actions in other applications. It set an expectation for both customers and developers that interacting with a tablet should be gestural and physical, not point-and-click button-presses.
There’s a limit, though, and we’ve all seen what happens when you go too far, mix metaphors, or simply miss the point. iBooks elegance, for me, is the toggling on and off of the minimal, virtual UI elements with a single touch. It feels like something cued from Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age, a way of mixing the old with the new.
Contrast this with Calendar (formerly iCal). My dad had one of those leather calendar planners that took up his entire desk, but even he stopped using it about 20 years ago. So using its visual artifacts (not cues) doesn’t resonate with me at all — it is simply kitsch. And unlike iBooks, I never get a tactile analog. There is nothing about this UI that allows me to draw upon expectations (even the fake paper pages don’t turn, they slide) of the old. Instead, we confuse the user further by throwing modern UI elements on top.
That, right there. Now you get it. Welcome to skeu.it!