What's Wrong With Skeumorphic Design?

The recent outing of Scott Forstall from Apple has suddenly got everyone talking about Skeumorphic design and, generally, finding it to be something they'd be glad to see disappear. This philosophy, which represents interface elements with real world items is embedded in the culture of interface design and Apple changes it at its peril.

Whilst Jonathan Ive has done a remarkable job of turning Apple's hardware design into something clean, crisp and admirable; can he work the same magic with interface elements? Translating that same minimalism into user interfaces without making them complex and non-obvious is going to be challenging.

Having on-screen notepads that look like notepads, or on-screen diaries that look like diaries works well for a touch-centric interface. There may not be additional functionality, but by giving users that warm fuzzy feeling of something they know, Apple achieves much more.

Perhaps the strongest element of Apple's iPhone, iPad and Mac strategy is the ease in which users pick up, learn and grow their skills across the whole platform. This consistency is characteristically the main reason why users will stick with Apple products. 

By removing them, along with Forstall, Apple is treading on dangerous ground. If Apple wants to proceed down this route it needs to do so with a carefully measured step.

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