Look to the Past for Metaphors to Design for Simplicity


Is this a Blackjack table? Image from TiPb.
Cliff Kuang, in his Fast Co Design article on The 6 Pillars of Steve Jobs’ Design Philosophy, talks about Jobs “finding simplicity for the future in metaphors from the past”.
They call this Skeuomorph Design where details are introduced to make designs look, sound, and feel familiar. A good example is the sound of the shutter programmed in digital cameras or the Nintendo Wii controller looking like a remote control.

It makes a lot of sense to use skeuomorphism to help bridge a communication gap by making an object’s function more intuitive to the user. This reduces the need of additional design details and hence promoting simplicity. However if used incorrectly, things could look tacky and out of place. So make sure you are inspired by the past instead. Do take note; there is a fine line between tacky and inspired by the past, so be careful!

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