It's killing me because I can't find a good way to search for this, but I've heard the term used when people discuss a lot of iOS applications that use knobs, sliders, and other graphical elements designed to imitate physical interface components.

There are a lot of great examples of this in the music/sound design software industry, for example Propellerhead's Reason : Screenshot of Reason

  • perhaps this should be migrated to UX ( ux.stackexchange.com )? – horatio Nov 11 '11 at 17:40
  • Good point, I didn't even think about that. As it is, it's phrased in terms of design as opposed to the actual method of interface, so I think the other question that DA01 pointed to is more appropriate, but I'm glad this question has been answered so maybe it'll be easier for someone else to find this term. I'm not sure how else to ask without showing a picture. – NateDSaint Nov 12 '11 at 19:18

Skeuomorph is perhaps the term you are looking for. Here's a discussion on UX:


I think it's an equally valid Graphic Design question as well.

As an aside: I think knobs are one of the greatest physical UI elements out there. I also think it's the one that suffers the most when attempted to be duplicated in a screen based interface.

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  • 2
    I love it when there's a perfect word which exactly, precisely defines a concept. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Nov 11 '11 at 20:32
  • I agree about knobs: the obvious place is in a car. Unfortunately these days they tend to be "digital knobs" (momentary switches) which have no fixed stop and start position. I pine for the old days when I could adjust the heat and the radio without actually looking. – horatio Nov 11 '11 at 22:46
  • That's exactly the word I was looking for! Thanks, now it's hopefully out in the ether so it's easier for someone to find. – NateDSaint Nov 12 '11 at 19:15
  • Also, I agree with Horatio. It was also nice to be able to set things before the power was turned on if you knew your system. – NateDSaint Nov 12 '11 at 19:16

You can try Vintage or Retro.

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