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Skeuomorphic user interface design was first popularized by Apple, and then adopted by many other companies. Basically, this design approach relies on imitating the look and functionality of traditional and familiar objects to make the interface more intuitive. For example, using wooden bookshelf with book covers to represent digital content is a prime example of skeuomorphism at work.

Although every user interface borrows some detail from the real world (i.e. a button is a real-world concept), some people would argue against borrowing an entire shelf.

Steve Jobs believed computers should be so simple to use that a complete novice could master them based on instinct alone. He championed a style of design in which digital elements resembled real world objects that anyone could recognise

There is a battle going on in the user interface design community whether such highly skeuomorphic designs are justified or not.  Some say it’s actually bad for user experience because imitating real-world objects necessarily means imitating the limitations that come with them, while others say this is a good trade-off for the friendliness and familiarity that comes with skeuomorphic designs.

 Reference: BBC News Magazine | By Sam Judah | 12 June 2013