Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design


Highlights of Week 25/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Firefox 5 available

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Firefox 5

Firefox 5 is available

Only 3 months after launching Firefox 4, Mozilla has the latest and greatest - according to Mashable also fastest - available for us to download: Firefox 5.

To update to the latest Firefox, click on the “check for updates” button in the “About Firefox” menu.

Visually very similar to v4, what are your first impressions?

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Free E-Book: GIS in the Cloud

Posted by Michael Gaigg

GIS in the Cloud

GIS in the Cloud

Matt Artz blogs about Esri's latest release by Victoria Kouyoumjian, Esri’s IT Strategies Architect: "GIS in the Cloud: The New Age of Cloud Computing and Geographic Information Systems".

Download: Download free e-book

Topics covered in the e-book include:

  • What Is Cloud Computing?
  • Cloud Service Models
  • Cloud Benefits
  • Public versus Private Cloud
  • Risks in the Cloud
  • ArcGIS and the Cloud

How to trigger “Edit Mode”

Posted by Michael Gaigg

In a recent discussion it occurred to me that there are really only 3 ways to trigger "edit mode", i.e. tell the map that I want to add/edit/remove something:

  • Binary
  • On
  • Selection


The edit mode is either turned on or off. Turned off is the default mode and requires explicit action by the user to turn it into edit mode with the advantage that user is aware of this switch, which might also trigger other behaviors to be turned off (map tips,...) or removed from the map (scalebar, overview map,...)

Use "binary" if editing is a major part of your app so that this distinction becomes crucial.


On is a subset of the binary case where the edit mode with all its functionality is always on by default and any interaction with the map allows users to select features to be edited or deleted, or add something new.
This case might conflict with other mouse events (e.g. a left mouse button up event usually triggers a map tip) and therefore needs to be very well thought-through before implementing.

Use "on" if you can fit it into your workflows and you can oversee and have control over most/all map functions.


Selecting an edit tool through a toolbar for example is the classical way of setting the map into edit mode. It speaks very loud GIS expert to me and seems to not being familiar to the average map user, i.e. it may be difficult to find the right tool from the sway of icons, learn (and remember) that this action is required AND know that the mode needs to be turned off again after being done.

Use "selection" if your map app already has a toolbar and you want to be on the safe side.

How do you prefer doing it?

What are your preferences/experiences?


Welcoming Yiwei Ma to our UI Design Team

Posted by Michael Gaigg

This week Yiwei Ma (LinkedIn) joined our design team as a UI Engineer.

He earned his master from the University of Michigan specializing in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and has a BS in Computer Science and a background in graphic design.

I'm very excited knowing that we can now further improve our ability to designing map interfaces. Welcome on board!


Highlights of Week 22/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Highlights of Week 21/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Highlights of Week 20/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Dashboard Design

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Example of a dashboard (Google Analytics)

Example of a dashboard (Google Analytics)

I'd like to summarize my notes from the excellent talk titled "Designing Infographics for Web Applications" (watch the 54 minute video).

This talk was given by Des Traynor at the MIX 2011 and is a must-see for anybody deciding to implement a dashboard or even designing one. It explains the goals of data visualization and the benefits for the business.

While the original talk is about infographics I named this article Dashboard Design because this was my big take-away and I see you guys applying this knowledge mostly to dashboards as well.

Know your Audience

For which role is the dashboard designed for?

Typical roles are:

  • CEO
    • strategic view
    • focus on long term
    • high-level overview
    • simple summary
  • Analyst
    • query driven analysis
    • precision required
    • emphasis on trends
    • emphasis on correlations
  • Operations & Logistics
    • focus on current status
    • issue & event driven
    • are things ok?

Know your Domain

What is the area (domain) of your audience?
Domains could be

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Customer/technical Support

What are you trying to answer? Which questions are important?

  • Average?
  • Percent change?
  • Totals?
  • Popular?
  • # sales?

Know your Data

Communicate single figure

Use when:

  • context is obvious
  • precision is required
  • past & future is irrelevant to the user

Can have different states (red, green,...)

Single figure with context

Use to ask:

  • How are we doing lately?
  • Any problems on the horizon?

Sparklines help (trend up or down?)

Analysis of a period

Use to show:

  • ...all the key moments of this month

Line chart needs lots of data points to be good, but then they are really good!

Analysis of a period versus target

Use to ask:

  • Did we hit our sales figures?
  • Are we fulfilling our quota?
  • Is performance ok?

Actual versus target chart; focus on delta! Use bar chart.

Breakdown of a variable

Use to ask:

  • What age groups are buying our stuff?
  • What countries are we big in?

Pie chart becomes bad when too many entries; sorted bar chart is better; avoid decorating with colors.

Breakdown over time

Use to ask:

  • How has the composition changed over the last year?

Line chart is good; stacked bar chart is really difficult to read.

Know your Visuals

Visuals are broken down into two categories: Quantity and Category.


  • Lines (length, width), that's the best
  • Color intensity (shades of red,...)
  • Size
  • Quantity
  • Speed (only useful in motion charts)


  • Line type (dashed, dotted,...)
  • Color (red, blue, green,...)
  • Shape (triangle, rectangle,...)
  • Location (map)

Know your Style

Remove the junk (= stuff that doesn't change, e.g. gradients, noise,...). There is no reason to fight for impact, this is not a shiny print population, it's a dashboard.


The process of designing a dashboard should follow these rules (in order of importance):

  1. They have to say something and be meaningful
  2. Dashboards & Visuals evolve, i.e. a lot of data is necessary to make sense
  3. Start with the basics: Rows from the database
  4. Add insight as you need it: Sorting, comparison,...
  5. Add a yearly view only after a year has passed 😉
  6. Include insights and actions
  7. Consider adding projections
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