What is Skeuomorphism?

What is Skeuomorphism?

Skeuomorphism has been one of the most widely used design languages and is basically a design technique that seeks to ornamentally replicate the appearance of an original object.

This design technique is used mostly in digital interfaces and seeks to imitate or copy the original design of a real-life object, as well as its textures and distribution, rendering it as similar as possible in digital life, thus achieving visual realism.

Skeuomorphism in the digital world is more frequently applied to the design of applications in order to link the user with a known object, and by representing physical objects it manages to familiarize him with new interfaces with much simpler applications so that the user can know immediately how to use the function of each application.

Uses of skeuomorphism

In ancient times the Greeks built stone structures that replicated characteristics of wooden buildings.

Skeuomorphism has always been present in our daily lives, but in the digital sphere this type of design with refined textures, easy to understand, that mimics reality, has almost been extinct today; where it has been most prevalent is in digital interfaces, such as folders and the recycling bin of a computer, the user interface of audio and image editing programs, among other programs.

an iPhone image

The skeuomorphism took more importance in 2007 with the help of Apple when the first iPhone was launched presenting an innovative interface and very different from everything known so far, Apple decided to enrich and use the skeuomorphism since no one was familiar with such visual detail on mobile and because the realistic design is the best way to teach the user to use an interface.

Since then, Apple has been a great defender of Esqueumorphism for years, bringing the graphic design of an app closer to its equivalent in real life, but everything changed with the iOS 7 invasion, where designs and flat colors predominate.


The most outstanding of its characteristics is that the skeuomorphism not only seeks to imitate the original functions of certain objects but also their visual and acoustic appearance.

Its design is more focused on imitating real objects, thus representing the real world with its nuances, shadows, textures, but they limit functionality.

Advantages and disadvantages

Among its advantages, we see that with this design technique it's possible to accelerate the understanding or learning process of the user.

Its highly detailed aesthetics create confidence when handling it.

As for disadvantages, we have that it requires more complex and loaded illustrations, which implies more creation time and more time to load.

Its design can easily become outdated as trends evolve over time.

Examples of skeuomorphism

  • The sound of a camera shutter closing when taking a photo from a cell phone is an example of a sound skeuomorphism.
  • The sound of turning pages when reading a book on a tablet and the look and texture so similar to paper pages in a digital book.
  • A compass app that mimics reality
  • The note-taking app that mimics a yellow lined page notebook
  • The calculator app designed like the old pocket calculators of accountants
  • The look of analog clocks on their watches.

These are some of the examples we have of skeuomorphism in the digital realm.


Skeuomorphism has been very useful to make the jump from the analog world to the digital world smoother and easier for users.

Nowadays, with the new technologies already fully integrated into our culture, realistic designs have lost part of their usefulness, original and other simpler design techniques have taken their place, ending that stage of learning in users, but they have become widely accepted concepts and for that reason, they have not disappeared completely, but are maintained.

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