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Skeuomorphic vs. Flat Design: Is Skeumorphism Revived? [2021]

You might have heard about skeuomorphism and might have Googled the word as well. Surprisingly, it is ones of the most Googled word here. If you are too here in search of it, then the following article is for you.

It covers all about the UX design models, specifically Skeuomorphic and flat designs. So do give it a read!

What Is Skeuomorphism?

Commonly, you might have come across the word in the design of a graphical user interface. Skeuomorphism originates from the Greek word “Skeuos,” meaning tool, and “morphê,” meaning a shape. In the 1980s, it was used in art and architecture to describe ornamental representations of different items that resembled the real world, for instance, an engraved painting.

In present times, the term describes the objects you see in the interface, which looks like their real-world counterparts in their appearance and interaction. The skeuomorphic meaning the three-dimensional skeuomorphic icons that appear on the apps were initially generated by Apple when Steven Jobs announced getting rid of traditional apple flat designs and replacing them with new, attractive, and real ones. The flat app icons were given a 3D effect that makes them a physical representation of the objects on the screen. Today, skeuomorphic interface design is found in different fields and other sites to attract users and offer them real feels.

Skeuomorphic Design Examples

There are multiple skeuomorphic design examples and comparisons to non-skeuomorphic designs that you may find.

Looking for an example of skeuomorphism? Find the best skeuomorphism design along with comparisons below to understand the concept better:

An app’s skeuomorphic style shows an image of a sandwich that seems natural to the users.

The example is an example of modern skeuomorphism, which shows the evolution of bins icon over time.

The following image is the logo of one of the famous skeuomorphic apps dealing with notes.

The example exhibits apple skeuomorphism and compares the flat safari app of apple and a skeuomorphism app.

One of the best examples of skeuomorphic buttons is the image below. It shows a comparison where the off switch is a flat UX design whereas a skeuomorphic button.

What Is Flat UX Design?

Flat design UI UX is a popular form of user interface design in modern times.

Typically, it consists of two-dimensional elements that have vibrant colors, minimal texture, and simple shapes. Usually, such flat UI designs are seemingly too attractive, crisp, and clear for an eye due to a lack of 3D effects.

Factually, it has been grabbing the attention of digital art since the release of Windows 8 and Apple iOS 7 in 2011 with windows flat design. Initially, the purpose of creating a flat UX design was to develop a responsive mobile design with less visual noise, faster websites, and an optimal user experience. It was Apple that initiated the trend of flat UI design icons in 2013 by flattening their homepage, and from them, the trend has been unstoppable. However, some backlash was faced by skeuomorphic interface design with the slogan bring back skeuomorphism, which Apple dealt with efficiently. Nonetheless, considering the shift to more 3D designs, the question arises, “Is skeuomorphism coming back?”

Flat UX Design Examples

Given below are some of the top-notch examples of flat UI designs:
The image below is a flat UI design of a bulb with vibrant colors and a simple interface.

The following image shows a comparison between a skeuomorphic UI design and a flat UI design. The right one is the modern logo for the camera app.

The famous Starbucks has also incorporated flat design UI components in its logo, as shown below:

The picture below compares the old Instagram logo, a skeuomorphism icon, and the new icon made up of a flat mobile design.

The very famous Microsoft has stuck to its flat design for years with some of the most appealing colors and minimalist design as depicted below:

Something New to Consider: Material Design

Although you must have been familiar with skeuomorphism web design and flat UX design, the term Material Design would not be something you would have heard before. So what is material design, and how does that matter to you?

Simply, it is a unique system created by Google to assist people in designing interfaces of top- notch quality with excellent user experiences. The design system enables users to create some exceptional designs for the web, Android. iOS and even Flutter. The features the designs language offers are matchless and realistic with animations, lighting effects, motions, and even three-dimensional effects. The primary inspiration behind adopting such a design in 2014, back when skeuomorphism UI design was popular, was the physical world consisting of paper and ink. However, the elements are flat, like in flat UI design but with an authentic feel.

Some examples of material design are as follows:

Skeuomorphism vs. Flat Design vs. Material Design

Now that you are aware of different UX design models that have been used in the designing world, along with examples, it is significant for you to know where each of the UI design models stands. Therefore, below, under the heading of each UI design model, you will find its advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages and Disadvantages Different UX Design Models

Skeuomorphic Design

Advantages

  • It makes an intuitive experience for the users as they get familiar with functionality right after looking at the design.
  • It helps build a perception about the app, leading to a stronger association with an application if done rightly.
  • It assists in developing creative, stylish, and fantastic skeuomorphic design elements.
  • It is loved by everyone as it is more appealing and based on real-life objects, so it is more prevalent among owners of businesses.

Disadvantages

  • It draws the users’ attention more to the design and style of the user interface and less on actual functionality.
  • It does not adapt to the modern innovations in the design field and is not made for all types of websites on the internet.
  • It can mislead the users as a skeuomorphic interface is all about the copy of reality and not about what exactly the app offers.
  • It requires a lot of attention to creating something that is precisely like real-world objects.

Flat Design

Advantages

  • It is the talk of the town, one of the hottest trends among graphic designers worldwide.
  • It has one of the most straightforward mobile interfaces among all other UX design models with clean flat design software with simple elements, colors, fonts, lines, shapes, etc. It is simple to use, and users do not have to search through to find different things on the interface; everything is just there, right in the front.
  • It attracts the user using some of the best color palettes with beautiful hues that are eye- catching. The users feel an instant boost in their mode when they have such an appealing interface and feel the urge to engage with it.
  • It has a great type making it an excellent UI design model for all sites.

Disadvantages

  • It is too simple for users who are familiar with complex interfaces.
  • It has too many colors that are often difficult to match to create the right combination with harmonious hues that appeal to the users immediately.
  • It confuses people at times; they do not understand which is for what as the icons and their functionalities are not as clearly defined.
  • It cannot deliver complex visual messages to the users.

Material Design

Advantages

  • It consists of proper rules along with documentation depending upon different demands of designers for various structures. Additionally, it provides predefined solutions to design problems.
  • It is a skeuomorphism flat design that is intuitive, user-friendly, engaging, and welcomes feedback.
  • It consists of colors, with dark and bright themes for sites, depending upon their preferences.
  • It offers complete flexibility to the designers to design in their unique way using different design elements.

Disadvantages

  • It only allows using the design system offered by Google while restricting other branding tools.
  • It offers animations, colors, and images that are often cognitively distracting for the users.
  • It has set rules and material styles that designers are bound to follow and can be only be changed with permissions.
  • It consumes a lot of battery of ones’ phone due to lots of animations.

2021: What Is the Best UX Design Model?

There can never be one answer that fits all when deciding the best UX model for your site. The answer varies from business to business. For instance, if you are a brand that sells games, a material design would be a great choice as it offers some appealing animations. Conversely, if you are an owner of an app that requires more interaction, say a messaging app, then a flat design mobile app would be an excellent idea. However, if you want to give a more authentic feel to the users, then skeuomorphic interfaces would work for you.

All in all, consider the targets, objectives, products/ services, and target audience of your brand and then decide the UX design model.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, previously, the design world was dominated by skeuomorphism windows, apps, icons, etc. However, in between, the trend shifted to flat designs, but now seemingly skeuomorphic plans are likely to make a comeback. Irrespective of the UX design model you choose, go for the one that can accommodate innovations.

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