Flat Design vs. Skeuomorphism – Effects on Learnability and Image Attributions in Digital Product Interfaces

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Oswald, David; Kolb, Steffen
Series: E&PDE
Institution: HTW Berlin University of Applied Science
Section: Design Education in Practice
Page(s): 402-407
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


In 2013 Apple introduced a new interface design for their mobile devices. Whereas the previous design language made heavy use of real world metaphors and cited material like wood, paper, and leather, the new interface now has a reduced and immaterial look. Avoiding metaphoric imitations its colourful graphic language is mostly non-representational. The pros and cons of both interface design approaches have been discussed in the interface design community ever since. Apart from aesthetic judgements, especially the question of usability and learnability has been debated heatedly. In this paper the theoretical concepts that are relevant for usability and learnability discussion, and a survey on how the interfaces’ reception changed over time, will be presented.

Keywords: Interface design, multi-touch, mobile, flat design, skeuomorphism


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