A skeuomorph is a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique. Examples include pottery embellished with imitation rivets reminiscent of similar pots made of metal, or a software calendar application which displays the days organised on animated month pages in imitation of a paper desk calendar.
Pronunciation and etymology 
Skeuomorph is pronounced // or [skyoo-uh-mawrf]. It is compounded from the Greek: skeuos, σκεῦος (container or tool), and morphê, μορφή (shape). The term has been applied to material objects since 1890, and is now used to describe computer interfaces.
Definition and purpose 
A similar alternative definition of skeuomorph is "an element of design or structure that serves little or no purpose in the artifact fashioned from the new material but was essential to the object made from the original material". This definition is narrower in scope and ties skeuomorphs to changes in materials, as it focuses on the cultural history behind the physical object and how that influences the evolution of the object's design.
Skeuomorphs are deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, or are simply habits too deeply ingrained to wash away. Donald Norman, an academic in the fields of design, usability, and cognitive science describes cultural constraints, interactions with the system in question that are learned only through culture, which give rise to skeuomorphism. Norman also popularized perceived affordances, where the user can tell what an object affords, or will do, based on its appearance, which skeuomorphism can make easy.
The concept of skeuomorphism overlaps other design concepts as well. Mimesis is an imitation, coming directly from the Greek. Another, archetype, is the original idea or model that is emulated, where the emulations can be skeuomorphic. Skeuomorphism is parallel to, but different from, path dependence in technology, where functional behavior is maintained when the reasons for its design no longer exist.
Physical skeuomorphs 
Historically, high-status items such as the Minoans' very elaborate and rare silver cups were often recreated for the mass market using ceramics, a cheaper material, allowing the common man to have the appearance of elite status. In certain cases, efforts were made to recreate the rivets in the metal originals by adding pellets of clay to the pottery version. There is also evidence of skeuomorphism in material transitions. Leather and clay pottery often carry over traits from the wooden counterparts of previous generations. Clay pottery has also been found bearing rope shaped protrusions, pointing to craftsmen seeking familiar shapes and processes while working with new materials. In this context, skeuomorphs exist as traits sought in other objects, either for their social desirability or psychological comforts.
In the modern era, cheaper plastic items often attempt to mimic more expensive wooden and metal products though they are only skeuomorphic if new ornamentation references original functionality, such as molded screw heads in molded plastic items.
Digital skeuomorphs 
Many computer programs have a skeuomorphic graphical user interface that emulates objects in the physical world. An example of this trend was the 1998 RealThings package. A more extreme example is that many music synthesis and audio processing software packages closely emulate physical musical instruments and audio equipment. Functional input controls like knobs, buttons, switches and sliders are often careful duplicates of the ones on the original physical device being emulated. Some software even includes graphical elements of the original design that serve no user interface function: handles, screws and ventilation holes for example.
Even systems that do not employ literal images of some physical object frequently contain skeuomorphic elements such as slider bars that emulate linear potentiometers and tabs that behave like tabbed file folders. Skeuomorphs need not be visual. The shutter-click sound emitted by most camera phones when taking a picture is an auditory skeuomorph - it does not come from a mechanical shutter, which camera phones lack, but from a sound file in the phone's operating system. Another example is the swiping hand gesture for turning the "pages" or screens of a tablet.
Arguments for skeuomorphism in digital design 
The arguments in favor of skeuomorphic design are that it makes it easier for those familiar with the original device to use the digital emulation, and that it is visually appealing. Interactions with computer devices are purely cultural and learned, so once a process is learned in society, it is difficult to remove. Norman describes this process as a form of cultural heritage.
Arguments against skeuomorphism in digital design 
The arguments against skeuomorphic design are that skeuomorphic interface elements use metaphors that are more difficult to operate and take up more screen space than standard interface elements; that this breaks operating system interface design standards; that it causes an inconsistent look and feel between applications; that skeuomorphic interface elements rarely incorporate numeric input or feedback for accurately setting a value; that many users may have no experience with the original device being emulated; and that skeuomorphic design limits creativity by grounding the experience to physical counterparts.
Apple, while under the direction of Steve Jobs, was known for its wide usage of skeuomorphic designs in various applications. The debate over the merits of Apple's extensive use of skeuomorphism became the subject of substantial media attention in October 2012, a year after Jobs' death, largely as the result of the reported resignation of Scott Forstall, described as "the most vocal and high-ranking proponent of the visual design style favored by Mr. Jobs". Apple designer Jonathan Ive, who took over some of Forstall's responsibilities and had "made his distaste for the visual ornamentation in Apple’s mobile software known within the company", was expected to move the company toward a less skeuomorphic aesthetic.
Smartphone example with Loopr Live Loop Composer, where the handheld phone is given the appearance of an old mechanical machine.
The RealThings telephone.
See also 
|Look up skeuomorph in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- "Skeuomorph". dictionary.com. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Thompson, Clive. "Clive Thompson on Analog Designs in the Digital Age". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- March, H. Colley (1890). Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. The Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society. p. 187.
- Gessler, Nicholas. "Skeuomorphs and Cultural Algorithms". Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Basalla, George (1988). The Evolution of Technology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-521-29681-1.
- Norman, Donald. "Affordances and Design". Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Janusheske, Jeffrey. "Thesis: Mimesis to Skeuomorph?". Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Sen, Rahul. "Archetypes and Their Use in Mobile UX". Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Knappet, Carl. "Photographs, Skeuomorphs and Marionettes".
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- Alan Bullock (1999), The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, W. W. Norton & Company, pp. 795–796, ISBN 978-0-393-04696-0
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- Carr, Austin. "Will Apple’s Tacky Software-Design Philosophy Cause A Revolt?". Fast Company. Retrieved 11 December 2012. "The issue is two-fold: first, that traditional visual metaphors no longer translate to modern users; and second, that excessive digital imitation of real-world objects creates confusion among users."
- Sharp, Helen; Rogers, Yvonne; Preece, Jenny (2007). Interaction Design: Beyond Human–Computer Interaction (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 62.
- Wingfield, Nick; Bilton, Nick (2012-10-31). "Apple Shake-Up Could Lead to Design Shift". The New York Times. CLXII (55,941). Retrieved 2012-11-05.
- Freeth, C. M., & Taylor, T. F. (2001). Skeuomorphism in Scythia: deference and emulation, Olbia ta antichnii svit. Kiev, British Academy / Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. P. 150.