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Skeuomorphic Design

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In putting together my mindmap for a social media strategy, I came across a term I had not heard of before, Skeuomorphic Design. Once I read what it meant, I realised I knew the concept, just not the term.

‘skeuomorphism’ – a design principle in which design cues are taken from the physical world. https://www.techopedia.com/definition/28955/skeuomorphism

Researching for community powered marketing, means I am trying to put the personal back into marketing. To create a strategy that promotes community, sharing, a more real-time bond with, whatever or whoever you are promoting. Advertising has moved from the idea of  pushing a product/campaign/event, its more about ‘pulling’, connecting at a deeper level, the lifestyle choice, of a community.

Through the rabbit hole of what is the internet, I jumped from researching marketing, to skeuomorphic design.

Skeuomorphism boils down to visual trickery, or the use of details and ornamentation to make one thing look like another. In architecture, false façades are skeuomorphic. In car design, fake wood panelling is. Skeuomorphism in UI design usually refers to a digital element designed to look like something from the physical world. http://gizmodo.com/what-is-flat-design-508963228

It instantly caught my attention, and several articles reveal a love/hate relationshop with designers and skeuomrophism. Followers of skeuomorphism, love the gradients, textures, and other details that make a digital object on a flat screen look “real.”. Opponents of skeuomorphism, namely the ‘flat design’ followers, feel that there is no need for overwrought style, unnecessary features and details. Especially to a new generation that doesn’t remember a world without computers.

An interesting article I came across, talks about the hated design of the Apple SmartWatch. Although it is anything but a watch, it resembles a watch. The reason it is using the skeuomorphism design concept, is to not scare us. It is a mimetic, it mimics its real world counterpart. In order to come to terms with new technology, we need to feel we are familiar with it. You can see this with older generations who have not had much contact with technological devices, in particular smart phones. They cannot relate to it, therefore don’t want to use it, or find it difficult to learn.

Whether its smart watches or any other new innovation, skeuomorphism serves as the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Technological Marvels; it’s a reassuring way of saying “DON’T PANIC. http://www.fastcodesign.com/3036347/wearables-week/the-most-hated-design-trend-is-back

So what has this got to do with marketing? Everything. Visual design is the key to advertising, and although designing a smart phone watch seems far away from designing a poster for facebook, the design concepts are the same. Generating a style guide as part of an advertising strategy, is key to a coherent campaign. Skeuomorphism could be a key design element that connects your community to your campaign, especially if you are targeting an older generation.

samples of flat and skeuomonic design

So, from skeuomorphism to mimetics to memes, that’ll be the next post.


  • Skeuomorphism https://www.techopedia.com/definition/28955/skeuomorphism





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So, what do you think ?