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Two Milestones Of UI Design And Icons in The History

As Sigma we chose UI Design and icons for the week of the topic.

Skeuomorphism in other words; “It looks so cool”

Do you remember the day that you hold the iPhone in your hand for the first time? It was an iconic design and one of the most sophisticated user interface that was ever made for a mobile phone. Back then, we used to call some of the phones “pocket computers” because they have more functionalities compared to other mobile phones. But after the first iPhone, a new era has opened our gates to a new world.

Did you remember the user interface of the first iPhone? Realistic images, shades, gradient colors and shiny icons in UI design … This design language is called “Skeuomorphism”. The history of Skeuomorphism is older than the history of the iPhone but we can say that after June 29th 2007, (the release date of the first iPhone), Skeuomorphism became a very popular trend.

At the beginning of the app era, people thought they had to learn everything in detail but usually getting used to something new can be a little hard at first. Skeuomorphism shows everything at first sight. For example, when you look at the icon of an app, you can easily understand it’s function if it’s created with skeuomorphism. Because real icons are used and everything’s very detailed with shades and colors.

Pros of Skeuomorphism

  • People are more familiar with real-time object design.

  • It tells the purpose of the app directly.

  • A new trend augmented reality, works well with skeuomorphism and this approach starts to take place in our lives again.

  • Most of people think that skeuomorphism is more attractive than the flat design

Cons of Skeuomorphism

  • It takes more time to design. The era that we live in is all about speed, technology is growing faster than before so designers need more simple ideas to implement.

  • It’s about real-time objects and this is very restrictive for the designer.

  • Today we have many apps on our phones and with a skeuomorphic design, it looks a little bit complex and cluttered.

Flat design, in other words “Oh my god, it looks so cute”

If skeuomorphic designs are so cool; we can say that flat designs are so “cute”. But of course, the flat design is not so popular because of its cuteness. It is all about the needs and dynamics of the sector. We will mention why skeuomorphic design left it’s throne to this simple, minimalist friend. But first, let’s get deeper into the approach.

Basically, a flat design is a style that doesn’t use artistic elements like shadows, textures or gradient transitions. It focuses more on the content, colors and typography. At the beginning of the ’00s, Apple’s operating system OS X started to seed the Skeuomorphism into our lives and for the flat design, Windows did that revolution and brought it to our daily lives.

So what is the idea behind the flat approach? Why did people like it and still has a long way to go? The answer is very simple, “simplicity”.

  • It does not contain artistic details like shadows, textures which take more time to design.

  • Flat design doesn’t take up much space in operating systems. So this makes it faster and smoother.

  • The flat design drives the creative minds, it has a productive surface.

  • The flat design brings high compatibility. Today we use many devices with many different sizes of screens and flat designs are easier to be responsive.

After the launch of Windows 7, Apple got influenced by this simplicity too and left the skeuomorphic design. After iOS 6, Apple turned their vision in their UI design to a flat one. Actually, Microsoft is not the first representative of this style. When we look at the history of the flat design we will see the Swiss effect back in the 1950s. This approach started in the 1920s in Russia, The Netherlands and Germany, reached its peak in 1950 in Switzerland with the highly known font, Helvetica.

What is the next in the Graphical User Interface world?

Flat design is still the most popular style in today’s design world and it is still being improved by the professionals of the sector. Today with the rise of the augmented reality technology, real-life concepts started to enter our lives again. So we can easily predict that Skeuomorphism will return in a refreshed and modern way, soon.

Besides all of those aspects, user interface and user experience aspects have to be in harmony and have to improve the satisfaction on the user’s side.

What about your opinions about UI design? Which one do you like more? More real-life icons or more simple and plain designs? We are waiting for your comments.

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