skeuomorph: A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary. For example, the click sound of a shutter in an analog camera that is now reproduced in a digital camera by playing a sound clip.
Read some very interesting articles on skeuomorphic UI design patterns that we see so much these days in all iOS devices:
Apple demonstrated some really nice ways of using this while designing apps and inspired an entire generation of apps. Skuemorphs are good to ease the learning curve for your apps—but as mentioned in the articles they can act quite contrary when overdone or used without caution. Aaron Weyenberg sums it up quite well:
Skeuomorphic and realistic UI components are susceptible to the following hazards:
• Changing the original component’s behavior to fit a new function or feature
• Straining or breaking established UI standards
• Incorrectly assuming the user is familiar with the original component
• An appetite for screen space
In my experience, when skuemorphs are used purely for decorative purpose, things are bound to go wrong. I’m very interested in discovering app design based not on traditional interfaces but experimenting with new graphic design directions. Calvetica is a neat example.