Is there a significant need for printer-friendly design? Creating a digital report that looks like a paper report and can print out in that format, isnt that skeuomorphic design thinking?

  • Usually if it's not a separate downloadable pdf file (often designed separately by a graphic designer, with care to details), printer friendly css formatting is often a simplified design, concerned with alignment and hierarchy. You can abandon color, so users don't waste valuable printer ink. Skeumorphic design is about creating a 'lifelike' visual representation on a screen, not offscreen.
    – Mike M
    Sep 23, 2020 at 22:55

1 Answer 1


This is the definition of Skeuomorphic design from wikipedia:

a derivative object that retains ornamental design cues (attributes) from structures that were inherent to the original.

Definition from Interaction Design Foundation:

an object in software mimics its real world counterpart. The “trash can” is, perhaps, the most recognizable skeuomorphic object. Though the good old “save” icon was once skeuomorphic but following the demise of the floppy disc – it no longer bears resemblance to the world of today.

A page that is meant to be printed is meant to live in the physical world, not virtual. Its final, original form is in the physical world.

This is why PDFs are often not suitable to read in screens, because they are not meant to be. Modifying content for it to live well in the physical world is simply a usability exercise (to make it usable in paper), and the PDF itself is a transitionary state of the content to reach its final form printed in paper, in your hands.

Skeuomorphic design of a page would mean the page is meant to be read in a screen but designed to resemble its physical counterpart. So it would be skeuomorphic if it had lines, punch holes, foldings and other ornamental designs without any functional benefit in digital format. Similar to the original notes app on iOS which was not meant to be printed, it was meant to be read on screen.

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