Skeuomorphic Design: A Tale of Two Apps

The phrase skeuomorphic design is a term that you may not know but have likely used an application that abides by the philosophy. Essentially skeuomorphic design (in an application sense) leans on real-world objects or interactions as design inspiration. Apps embracing this philosophy benefit from being instantly recognizable by a majority of users and typically have rich, textured & detailed interfaces. If you’re using an iPhone (and chances you are) then skeuomorphic design is right in front of you be it the Contacts, iBooks or Compass apps. I won’t say Apple has pioneered skeuomorphic design, but they have contributed to it’s rise. Millions of users globally interact w/ designs that mimic paper calendars, notepaper & bookshelves… all thanks to Apple.

Personally I like skeuomorphic design. It’s rich, interactive and recognizable and I feel lowers the anxiety that new users face when interacting with software for the first time (mom). When the new Reminders app was released I instantly fell in love…until Clear came out. Clear for those who don’t know is a super simple, focused and user friendly list making app.



At first glance you can tell skeuomorphic from the content focused approach instantly. The detailed, paper-like interface of Reminders is replaced by a sparse, color gradient interface that focuses on pinch and swipe interactions.

Both apps more or less help you complete the same thing; make a list and check off the items. Where Apple expands upon this is the location and date based reminders per list item that some users love. Personally, I don’t have much of a use for this and find Clear helps me complete the same task with a very minimal interface.

What are your thoughts? Instantly recognizable vs. sparse and content focused

Herefish Colophon