F: Hey how’s the navigation module coming?
G: The ‘menu’? I shipped it this morning.
I had never given it much thought.
Apple had been known to effectively set design trends even when they were late to the party. So when they sounded the death knell for skeuomorphism, it wasn’t surprising that most web designers followed suit.
Skeuo-morphism [from Greek; contains-form] was seen as crucial, at the beginning of the PC era, to help get people quickly comfortable with the PC by bringing ‘forms’ of everyday natural objects into the digital world.
When used colloquially skeuomorphic design has largely suffered a reductionist ascription, as it’s used mainly to refer to visual metaphors. However forms have qualities other than visual.
So when ‘menu’ is used as a skeuomorphic reference to a group of hyperlinks on a website. It represents a convergence failure. A divergence from the common usage as visual metaphor in other aspects of the digital world.
Looking at Alex Cican’s blog menu, he tried to make it conform to the traditional ‘menu’ people are used to. My argument is between a named skeu-x that sounds and looks like its traditional counterpart, and one that is named but doesn’t look like anything traditionally.
Could this be a case of ‘skeuophonism’, i.e, containing only the sound and not the entire form.
‘Menu’ as a visual skeuomorphic concept, works when applied to other software like TV, Interactive displays, etc but falls short when used on the web to refer to grouped hyperlinks.
‘Breadcrumbs’ is another case of skeuophonism that I’ve managed to find.
The ‘skeu-’ debates aside, I guess this is just the way humans learn or could there be something more to it?
This article first appeared on Francis’ Medium