Skeuomorphs

“Skeuomorph” refers to the characteristics of a design that emulates old-fashioned physical objects; objects  that were used in a different context.  How is this relevant to a cognitive scientist working in human interface design? Well think about the animated page turning in digital magazines, the shutter sound your phone “makes” when taking a photo, the yellow legal pad aesthetic of the iOS notes app. None of these examples seem like good design implementation (Thankfully Scott Forstall has been fired). The novelty of a rendered page turning across your screen will become annoying, the shutter sound is useless, and the yellow notepad will be a jarring and an incoherent change from the rest of the GUI. It’s all simply bad design and an HID should be aware of this.

What about the business analysts generating reports for their business users? They make dashboards, custom reports, etc. and have tons of widgets available to them either in their report designer or as plug-ins for their platform. The business analyst doesn’t need to have a degree in HID, just some common sense and a decent sense of aesthetic, but just incase it’s not obvious: A gauge widget has no place in a modern business report!

Vs.

It’s interesting because most of these gauge widgets are so poorly designed that they require an accompanying legend or a literal display of the numerical value above or within the gauge itself:

It’s obvious as to how much space is wasted in the image above; why not only use  “Principal $200,000”? If you want to succinctly convey the criticality of a status or metric then color code the grid or the text it self as in my example above.