Skeumorphism in Audio Tech Design
  • The bias against skeuomorphic designs in that article was too unquestioning and equates realistic representation a little too much with crappy design. Visual analogies are one way of shortening the learning curve for a user interface and some attempt at visual appeal is necessary for visually distinguishing a program what has come before as well as attracting the eye. You want to version 3 to look different from version 2 because it sounds different and might work differently. You might as well try to make it look shiny while you are updating it, right? The trouble arises when time moves on and what was once shiny and new now seems gaudy and dated.

    Personally I don't mind too much if a plugin looks like it was designed by someone whose day job is creating videogame environments so long as it sounds good. Furthermore, when skeuomorphism is eschewed interfaces can become daunting exercises in abstraction. Pure Data would be a good counter example of an interface with only minimal traces of analogous knobs and cords and it has one of the worst interfaces in all of sound design and is championed by people looking to burnish their credentials as bold experimenters.

    I think Audulus strikes a nice balance. Clearly there has been some thought put into the aesthetics of Audulus, and it continues to evolve from version to version with subtle animation cues that makes it feel like a programing environment with the emphasis on the environment. But the elements are reduced enough that you aren't constantly reminded of a deep sea expedition. That' my two cents anyways.
  • No I get exactly where this dude is coming from. Where he lost me was the criticism of Reason.

    Reason is actually a good counter example to his argument. It's a pleasure to use, and when you want that kind of thing it's just amazing.

    Skeumorphism isn't the problem, *poorly done skeumorphism* is the problem. Which waves and it's ilk really are ... it's not that they aren't beautiful, but they have all the taste and subtlety of Trump tower paired with the usability of a Rubic's Cube.
  • I tend to lean more toward @plurgid's view than @RobertSyrett's. While it's certainly true that skeuomorphism has its place, I think it's been way overdone. It's interesting to look at the evolution of the iPhone UI over time. Early versions of iOS and the Apple Human Interface Guidelines of the time encouraged skeuomorphism as a way to aid user comprehension. As the OS evolved and the user base became more familiar with the paradigm, Apple moved toward a cleaner, more abstract design and encouraged developers to do the same. One could argue that an application like GarageBand benefits from a skeuomorphic UI since it has a high percentage of casual users, but I think it gets in the way of serious work. One the aspects of Audulus that first attracted me was the UI. Clean and uncluttered, but still visually appealing.