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Where are your skeuomorphs? Find them lurking in your business

It is time to come face to face with your skeuomorphs.

What is a skeuomorph?  Basically it's a vestigial part that remains after a redesign, or something retained in a new design to keep an object looking familiar.  It's a term often used in architecture and design.

The most famous skeumorphs are those from the world of consumer product design.  In product design, materials and product functionality often change faster than taste or habits.  That's why plastic Injection-molded sandals have carved plastic strips of "leather" formed on their surfaces, why a Toyota Prius has a hub cap (the hub cap evokes the spokes that you would see in older wheels, or wheels on horseless carriages), or why we have lampshades.  There are thousands more examples, from the fake woodgrain printed on pressboard furniture to the ornamental cloth laces that sit atop the Velcro strip of a child's shoe.

Many skeuomorphs account for little or no mass in a design.  But others - the ones we're concerned with - add considerable, unnecessary mass.  These skeuomorphs can be a result of outdated processes, as well as designs.

To streamline your business, get to know your skeuomorphs.  Skeuomorphs lurk around healthy businesses for a variety of reasons: they make us feel comfortable, they make the new feel like the old and familiar, or they just - well, they've always looked that way.  Look for any practice retained for its form, not its function.  Do you still print brochures even though people only use your website?  Are you mailing printed account statements to people that toss them, satisfied with their receipt and their online summary?  Are your trash cans still bigger than your recycling bins?

What skeuomorphs do you see in your business?  In your work processes?  In your designs?