Metaphor is a figure of speech, whose essence is to make a comparison between things that are not literally the same. For example, saying “that man is a lion” asks the reader to imagine how a topic (the man) could be reinterpreted in terms of some vehicle (a lion).
In Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), visual metaphor refers to a kind of analogy, by which designers present the user with an explanation of system behavior in terms of some image. In the early days of the GUI, attempts were made to present all computer behavior in terms of real world analogies, as in the case of the desktop metaphor. However, these large scale metaphors soon broke down, as the challenge of developing and maintaining whole systems of correspondence became apparent. Attempts to replicate the success of the desktop metaphor have failed . In practice, UI designers now use the term to refer to visual conventions and genres that, although familiar, need not resemble any...
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