Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

18Jul5

Create your own Treasure Map

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Historical Style

Historical Style

Now this is cool (thx Nick for sharing)! An antique looking basemap (by MapBox), just missing pirates, treasures, hidden islands and tales about monsters of the sea...

Update (thx to Aileen Buckley): Esri has "a style you can use to do this -- it is the Historical style on Mapping Center -- it has ships, sea serpents, etc... (thanks to Jaynya!)".

Download: create historical looking maps (scroll down to 'historical' style)

10Jul3

Lifespan is an important Design Decision

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Mayan mahem

Mayan mahem

The lifespan of a planned application or website is an important (and often overlooked) requirements influencer. Many questions come to mind that appear to be technical in nature but have to be understood by the designer to optimize their design decisions on capabilities and known limitations of the target technology. Designs can never truly be technology agnostic and in my opinion if they are, then this fact will create gaps between design and implementation later on. So you better be aware of them.

Typical Questions to ask:

  • Will the app be likely be superseded by something else within the next 6 months?
  • Is another known technology catching up and soon more prominent than our current target technology?
  • Do we rely on third-party tools/plugins that need to be maintained or maybe will render our application unmaintainable?

Especially the last question bares high risk of failure. If you rely on a JavaScript's front-end framework - like we all do - say, jQuery UI, chances are that our designs will a) be limited and b) sometime be stuck in the middle once a major redesign hits us. If the redesign happens before the end of the planned/anticipated lifespan of our app, cost and effort to upgrade might not be feasible and thus we cannot upgrade to the latest versions anymore. The End.

Scalability

Amount for various cases where your design needs to be flexible enough to handle changes over time. These can include:

  • Administration: more objects (users, items) are added over time. Does the app provide pagination? Search? How easy can they be plugged in?
  • Load: processing times increase. How will the system display delays in page refreshes? Download times?
  • Client requests: more functionality needs to be added. Is the design flexible enough to accommodate another button or menu item? Etc.
  • i18n: multi-language support needed? Now? Later? Maybe?
  • Accessibility: is it worth the effort?
  • Support for MVP (minimal viable product) and incremental improvements?

In many ways the Maya calendar and it's associated 2012 phenomenon are a good example for design decisions based on lifespan. Who cared back then that after 5125 years the calendar would need to be reset (or cannot handle more combinations), like many software systems didn't take into consideration what is now known as the Y2K or Millennium bug which was caused by the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits for pure storage consideration, which nowadays in our abundance world of storage is really hard to follow. But hey, it costed an estimated remediatioin of $416.- in today's currency world-wide.

Lesson

Take into consideration the lifespan of your app when designing it. Any negligence is careless design and may result in increased cost or even an unmaintainable or unusable product later on.

What are your experiences with lifespan?

8May23

Mapping Stereotypes: Europe according to Americans

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Europe According to USA

Europe According to USA

...and other stereotypes by Yanko Tsvetkov (thx to Rob for pointing me to this site)!

Working under the pseudonym "alphadesigner" which (according to him) makes people usually think that his work is really important. Regardless... Yanko hits the nail right on its head when it comes to stereotypes.

You gotta love the European map as seen by different states/cultures. And if you really think that everybody in Austria eats Apfelkuchen for breakfast and Italy is infested by Godfathers... then you either watch too many movies or ...are American LOL.

29Apr40

Amazing Paintings with inlaid Maps

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Patriarch (original), 2006 Inlaid maps on panel

Patriarch (original), 2006 Inlaid maps on panel

What an amazing find (once again thx to Nick Furness).

Matthew Cusick created these astounding paintings and collages using inlaid maps.

I love map art (does this word exist already?) - do you guys know more? Send it to me and I'll post it here, can't wait for maps to enter urban culture, maybe some map graffiti or street map painting on a sidewalk...?! ;)

4Apr30

Multiline TextBox control (TextArea) in Silverlight

Posted by Michael Gaigg

This is one of those things that can drive you crazy. There is no 'TEXTAREA' equivalent in Silverlight. One needs to use the TextBox control with some tweaks instead. I'm terrible in remembering details like these, so here for my records:

<TextBox TextWrapping="Wrap" Width="300" Height="80" AcceptsReturn="True" HorizontalScrollBarVisibility="Auto" VerticalScrollBarVisibility="Auto" />

Some remarks:

  • TextWrapping=True will make sure that any text entered will actually wrap to the next line
  • Height is important
  • AcceptsReturn is useful to avoid accidental submission of the form
  • Horizontal and Vertical scrollbars are set to "auto", but feel free to set to "Visible" if that's your preference

Enjoy!

27Mar7

Esri’s First Homepage – Esri.com Anno 1994

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Esri.com anno 1994

Esri.com anno 1994

Today I have a special treat for you, an awesome piece of Esri's history (thx Jayson for pointing this out to me):

1994 - www.esri.com launched

Gotta love this!

Reminds me of my first homepage made in 1993, unfortunately I don't have any screenshots or code anymore (one of my biggest regrets). All I remember is that I used frames, lots of beveled buttons an an animated GIF for the email link.

Can't believe how far we've come in only 20 years.

19Mar26

The 4 Questions of Strategy

Posted by Michael Gaigg

4 steps of strategy

Just described 'strategy' to a consultant and thought to share my awesome whiteboard drawing ;)

The 4 questions of defining strategy are:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. How do I get there?
  4. How do I define success?

The success criteria is crucial. It's the metric for any decision you need to take along the way, it will help you determine which design is 'better'.

13Mar4

Proposing: Feature Spotlight

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Feature Spotlight

Feature Spotlight

Let's say you want to highlight a feature on the map, e.g. a user has searched for a landmark, typically one would place a marker on the map and zoom to that location. The downside is that the user still needs to 'search' for the visual clue (the marker) on the map.

I think the missing link here is to 'black out' the whole map and only highlighting the area surrounding the landmark. This provides a natural focus on the feature and is a really elegant alternative I believe.

Optionally one could use the modal area to add a description or even photos (get creative for yourself). And yes, leave the marker also for browsers that don't support CSS3.

The code is as simple as could be, here is the CSS class called 'spotlight':

    .spotlight {
        display: block;
        position: absolute;
        top: 0px;
        left: 0px;
        width: 100%;
        height: 100%;
	z-index: 100;
        border: 0;
        pointer-events: none;
        /* this is the sweet spot */
        background-image: -webkit-gradient(radial, 50% 50%, 0, 50% 50%, 100, from(rgba(0,0,0,0)), to (rgba(0,0,0,0.8)), color-stop(0.8, rgba(0,0,0,0)));
        background-image: -moz-radial-gradient(50% 50% 45deg,circle closest-side,transparent 0,transparent 100px,rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.8) 120px);
    }

And here the HTML defining the spotlight container:

<span id="spot" class="spotlight"></span>

Implementation inspired by CSS3 Spotlight.

10Mar28

Amazing: National Geographic World Map by Esri

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Yes, I'd rather be skiing in the Austrian Alps as well... ;) Amazing map!!


View Larger Map

This map is designed to be used as a general reference map for informational and educational purposes as well as a basemap by GIS professionals and other users for creating web maps and web mapping applications.

The map was developed by National Geographic and Esri and reflects the distinctive National Geographic cartographic style in a multi-scale reference map of the world. The map was authored using data from a variety of leading data providers, including DeLorme, NAVTEQ, UNEP-WCMC, NASA, ESA, USGS, and others.

Link to map contents on ArcGIS online: National Geographic World Map

5Mar1

Wireframing – what a waste of time… not!

Posted by Michael Gaigg

See my notes below the slides...

Slide 1

Wireframing is a planning tool.

Use it whenever you need to turn a concept into design.

As a direct implication: your design is only as good as your strategy/concept. That means: ask the right question!

Slide 2

Demo (no need to describe to you the benefits, just see)

Tips:

  • mockupstogo
  • mybalsamiq
  • don't have templates, but have stencils (symbols)
  • cropping
  • keyboard
  • 960 grid system
  • notes
  • from rough to detail
  • design to scale if possible
  • please no more lorem ipsum

Slide 3

Let me show you some case studies to illustrate how and when wireframing can help. While usually I recommend 2 or max of 3 rounds of mockups, during proposals where requirements are vague it’s more important than ever to kick around ideas and bring the visuals in front of key stakeholders and decision makers. So we might end up with 6 or 7 rounds.

Slide 4

And this is our final mockup that we felt confident fits the target audience of an executive.
You see the basic elements: header, navigation, dashboard, Maps.

Can you guess which technology this is based on?

Slide 5

Reviewer Server asked us to help designing the RS Health Check Dashboard which was used and presented at the User Conference 2011. This effort was designed (including screen comps) within 2 days and implemented within 2 weeks.

Validate your designs!!!

Slide 6

It will save you

  • Energy
  • Time
  • Money

Because the majority of UI changes made before coding begins.

Slide 7

A picture/sketch is so much richer than describing.

Communicate visually.

Different disciplines need to interweave/overlap (designer needs to influence the requirements and a pm needs to influence designs). I prefer a PM coming to me with a sketch of the design saying: "Oh, here's some requirements that I have, and here is sort of high level what I'm thinking about.“

Slide 8

Helps prioritize and add emphasis to the important user stories. Identify gaps/possible wholes and not needed functions.

Nail down scope and functionality.

Avoid building features that turn out to not be needed in the first place. Limit the amount of gotcha’s along the way, “ah, we need to be able to save this damn thing, let’s add another button”.

Slide 9

What I like about lo-fi wireframes is that it's obvious that design is not done, looks unfinished, and nothing is set in stone.

Don’t get hung up on discussions about design details.

Don’t loose focus of the main goal and core tasks!

Picture: Detail '57 Chevy

Slide 10

Unless there is a good reason – proposal work, research, marketing – max. 2 iterations!
‘Finalize’ and move on! There is plenty of room for fine-tuning along the way

Slide 11

A sketch is a sketch (after serving its purpose it’s still only a by-product, like a white-board drawing). Don’t end up spending more time updating all the sketches in all the places in all the documents – that’s not the idea of sketching.

Get sign off!

Slide 12

As simple as it looks (or I make it look) – sketching/prototyping is only as good as the person that does it. It doesn’t replace experience and hard work.

Slide 13

The two links mentioned during the demo:

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