Removal of skeuomorphism, parallax effects and the oxymoron in iOS7

Later this month App Studio will release its next major version, v4.

As announced (and expected) App Studio v4 will change its design to match iOS7 streamlined design, removing most skeuomorphs and providing a stunning app design.

While probably most designers will like the new flat design of App Studio apps, I am sure there will be others.

Flat design, as iOS7 promotes it and what seems to be fashionable nowadays, has divided the design community.

I saw a funny tweet about iOS7 icons:

“Some free wireframe…er… I mean iOS 7, icons. http://t.co/J591HYmSU1

— Francisco Inchauste (@iamFinch) September 24, 2013

It’s true, many flat icons do look like wireframes. So the question is, for a good User Experience, does it need more? I found an interesting article about skeumorphism in UX magazine:

“We shouldn’t abandon cultural affordances like skeuomorphs because some find them tacky or overused.”

http://uxmag.com/articles/does-skeuomorphic-design-matter

Personally I am torn. I can see the advantage of simplicity which can solve the obtrusiveness of many UIs. On the other hand good UXD (User Experience Design) adds guidance and narration especially for new users/uses. So I am looking forward to feedback to the new design.

And humans seem to be attracted to cool effects, otherwise I couldn’t explain the fascination for Photoshop’s page curl effect, Flash-based flip-book catalogs and other “serve no other purpose than look cool” effects in the past.

Apple seemed to have been torn too, or why else did iOS 7 get rid of almost all skeuomorphism and added heavy use of parallax and motion-zoom effects instead? Isn’t a parallax effect a skeuomorphism?

For me that is the oxymoron in iOS7 ;-)

 

 

 

Glossary:

  • Skeuomorphism: User Interface elements that emulate objects of the physical world, e.g. a trashcan to delete something.
  • Parallax effect: Technique in computer programs and UIs, where background images move slower slower than foreground images, creating an illusion of depth (3D).
  • Oxymoron: A figure of speech or thing that combines contradictory terms or paradox items, like a “plastic glass” (for drinking).

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

Nicest app so far?

I have seen many apps and helped a lot of customers to publish their (public and in-house) apps so far and I would have a hard time to choose the “nicest” or best-looking or most interesting app published so far.

So let me introduce you to an App Studio app that I would currently see as my favorite so far when it comes to the user experience and especially its use of interactivity: Quidtap.

My advice, try it yourself (even if you like me don’t understand Italian). If you don’t want to, you might also want to look at an introduction video only: http://www.quidpad.it/

What I like about the usability of Quidtap:

– First, it uses interactivity tailored to a tablet (one of my pleas earlier)
– The usability (what to do when, how to navigate etc.) is explained and clearly indicated (no need to “just tap everywhere to find effects”)
– The interactivity doesn’t get into my way when accessing content (one of the worst things to do, remember “Skip Intro” in the Flash days?)
– The interactivity underlines the message the publication is conveying (photos have callouts that explain areas tapped)
– The interactivity is fun to use

(Is there a better reason than the last one? ;-)

 

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.

Dare to be First in Digital Publishing

Digital Publishing has just begun, so what is holding YOU back?

Digital Publishing

When Apple introduced the iPad about a year ago, Digital Publishing was officially kick-started. By now, you have surely seen some publications and tested some content-apps with your own very tapping fingers.

The interesting (and sometimes annoying) reality is that there isn’t really a standard for user experience in apps. Some publishers try the flipbook style (almost PDF-like), others try to spice it up by using page stacks, and others take an approach more Web pages.

The annoying thing can be that the reader often doesn’t know which elements are interactive —what can be tabbed (touched) or swiped or moved.

The Web has one advantage here: Hyperlinks are usually underlined or marked with an icon. Also, your mouse cursor can help to show hyperlinked elements because the mouse cursor changes when you hover above them. As a tablet does not have a mouse cursor nor the authority to change your finger tip (maybe in future we’ll see sensoric feedback to your fingertips), apps should really offer a different way of making sure the reader understands what and how something is interactive, or that it is a trigger for something to play, jump or move.

And that’s where your big chance is if you dare to rise up to the challenge now rather than wait for others to act first. Not only can you benefit from the hype (by being early in the market), it also means that iPad users will try out and read your content if you make it compelling, new, unique, interesting, and tailored to the device. As there are no set rules yet and readers are longing for usable and interesting ways of presenting content, your fresh idea for iPad design might just hit the spot and get the highest attention.

One way of achieving this could be by using a scrollable area. Think of a scrollable area like a text box. Only, with Quark App Studio it can be much more: it can be a fully-fledged layout with all bells and whistles, pictures, text running around pictures, even multimedia objects like videos and slideshows.

Scrollable areas have four advantages — three for the reader and one for you:

First, you can put more content on the tablet screen than it could normally hold without sacrificing readability. As you can put complete layouts into a scrollable area, it also won’t look like a text desert, as there will be pictures, icons and even multimedia elements like videos playing within the scrollable area. You can help your reader understand that an area is scrollable by letting the Quark App Studio automatically dim its edges.

Secondly, by using a container page for each article or section you can prevent the reader from having to swipe through hundreds of pages and page stacks, helping them to find their way around your app and making your content feel native to a tablet.

Both techniques help usability and make the app much more interesting.

Thirdly, when you use the powerful new ability of scrollable areas to change the surrounding page based on the content currently displayed in the scrollable area, you can create your own narrative worlds. For example, maybe you have different categories you write about in the same article, such as Seasons of the year. If you put the article into a scrollable area, you could swap the background image or change the color scheme of the entire page based on the Season displayed in the scrollable area. Now that’s tailoring content to a tablet: all your communication happens on one page and can still be rich, elaborate, diverse and most important of all, new and interesting.

The fourth advantage of this approach is not to be underestimated by anyone designing content, articles or stories: you can create content once and reuse it in different apps, in different publications or for different devices without having to redesign. As your scrollable area is a layout which is most likely in skyscraper format (narrow as a traditional column and very tall), you can use that in any publication, orientation or device, even if they have different aspect ratios (iPads currently have a 3:4 ratio, many Android devices have a 16:9 or 16:10 ratio).  You don’t need to redesign the article (which resides in the scrollable area) — you just redesign the outer page and reference the same scrollable area. This will save you a lot of time!

Bottom-line: if you start now, you can experiment with new user experiences, be among the first with new ways, be discovered and be spoken about. Now is the time. It’s easy, it’s possible, it’s affordable, and it’s fun.

So what is holding you up? You can really dare to be first.

Both an engineer and a layout artist, Matthias bridges the gap between technology and people.

Before joining Quark, Matthias pioneered print, Web, and multimedia products for multiple German publishing companies. Since 1997 he has played a central role in shaping Quark’s desktop and enterprise software.
Starting 2003 Matthias has focused on Quark’s interactive and digital publishing solutions. He is an active participant in design and publishing communities and represents Quark in the Ghent PDF Workgroup.

Since February 2014 Matthias heads Quark’s Desktop Publishing business unit and is therefore responsible for QuarkXPress.