Skeuomorphism Renaissance: Balancing Realism and Minimalism in UI/UX

  • by Nikolas Noel
  • September 18, 2023
  • 5 minutes read


Have you ever pondered the allure of pottery embellished with imitation rivets as reminiscent of metal vessels, or a digital calendar that mirrors the tactile sensation of a paper desk organizer, or a wallpaper with wood texture on it? These intriguing examples beckon us to explore the captivating world of skeuomorphism. In this article, we will delve into the depths of this fascinating concept, unraveling its historical roots, pondering its significance, and reflecting on its enduring influence in UI/UX design.

The transition from analog to digital is one of the most significant technological revolutions in the history of our culture. Computers, cell phones, and tablets are very complicated gadgets when compared to previous technologies. We’ve reduced the number of machines and their functions to a small, bright, pixel-packed screen.

It is a difficult task to create an intuitive interface for such a vast and abstract technology. How do you make this complex and sophisticated world of technology more attractive to the general consumer? As you might expect, many UI/UX designers rely on skeuomorph or familiarity.

Skeuomorphism in UI/UX Design

You already know that skeuomorph is a term that describes the imitation of an object onto a non-object. In UI/UX design, a skeuomorph is a representation of physical objects in the design on the screen. With the main aim of introducing features to make them easier to find and recognize.

Skeuomorph has proven to be a highly valuable bridge, even critical in the advancement of digital technology. This is because the skeuomorph notion can help users, particularly those from the boomer age, adjust more readily to the UI/UX environment that has only recently emerged in the digital development period.

On our current gadgets, for example, if you wish to open the phone, you will be routed to an application with a logo in the shape of a cable telephone on your screen. When you wish to open an email, you point your finger or pointer at the application that has an envelope-like logo.

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Skeuomorph is used for more than just a logo; as mentioned before, skeuomorph icons are also used in the UI/UX of every app. For example, the search feature is represented by a magnifying glass icon, the button to return to the main page is represented by a home icon, and so on. As for the overall feature display, you can also implement skeuomorph, for example, a radio application whose features are actually shown with a real radio imitation.

Advantages of Skeuomorphism in UI/UX

As previously stated, the advantage of skeuomorphic lies in the familiarity value. Skeuomorphic design features make use of the user’s understanding of the physical environment. This familiarity can help new software learn faster and boost user comfort and trust.

Skeuomorphic interface design can also boost user interaction since it feels more intuitive because it mimics real-world interactions. Users are more inclined to press buttons that resemble physical buttons, for example.

Skeuomorphic design can also improve the user experience. The utilization of realistic textures, shadows, and materials can elicit good feelings and make the user experience more engaging. This emotional connection has the potential to increase brand loyalty.

Last but not least, skeuomorphism can assist consumers in better comprehending the role of digital elements. A calendar app that looks like a physical paper calendar, for example, can make it easier for users to access and manage their schedules.

Debate Over Skeuomorphism

Despite its powerful function, skeuomorphic designs have sparked criticism due to concerns about the legitimacy of the work. Some symbols used in the world of design are becoming less unique, and patents for them are being debated. This is due to the fact that many icons are created to approximate the physical form of the object being replicated, thereby limiting the depiction style used. Skeuomorphic design can also sometimes result in visual chaos, especially if designers imitate real-world aspects too much. This can result in a messy and confusing UI/UX design.

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Away from the background of authenticity. Another point of contention is why copy the old for something new. For example, should you assume an email with an envelope-shaped icon when an iconic logo can be used to match the developer’s identity? The options for producing a unique appearance are limited when adopting imitation based on the skeuomorph idea. Additionally, the rise of minimalist and flat design trends has led some to consider skeuomorphism to be outdated and incompatible with the sleek and clean aesthetic of contemporary UI/UX design.

Supporting the previous points, highly complex skeuomorphic elements can take up important screen space in mobile and internet designs, reducing usability. This is of course a disadvantage for designers when building UI/UX designs because it takes up a lot of space and reduces effectiveness.


Skeuomorphism in UI/UX design is still a useful tool for producing intuitive and compelling user experiences. While it has received criticism and developed through time, its ability to draw on users’ knowledge of the physical world and elicit emotional connections makes it a relevant and long-lasting design strategy. Skeuomorphism, when applied wisely and in conjunction with modern design concepts, can assist designers in striking a balance between tradition and innovation in the ever-changing field of UI/UX design.


El is a chemistry teacher and graphic designer, two combinations that some people question. Still, graphic design is a skill he enjoys outside of his career as a chemistry teacher. Through the world of graphics, El finds love and relieves boredom outside of the chemical experiments that many of his students are confused about at school. He wants to continue providing the best work amidst other busyness.

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