Even after all these years it is still possible to learn a new thing every day and one of my favourite sources for keeping the knowledge flowing is Boing Boing. Today I picked up a new word, skeuomorph.
It means elements of a design that are not functionally necessary but hark back to cues from earlier items. Examples would be fake woodgrain laminated onto surfaces in memory of when more things were made out of real wood or digital simulations of film grain which hark back to the days when instant cameras took a picture without having to leave the shutter open for several minutes even though you still had to get the film processed to see the results.
An example from this blog (if you aren’t reading the content of my post via some other site) is the use of curved corners on the box separating the main content from the background image. They aren’t there to give protection from sharp edges and they won’t gradually wear away to bigger curves over time; they simply echo the way that, with real life woodwork, I tend to round edges slightly for much more practical reasons.