Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design


5 Usability Newsletters to Follow

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Yes, you heard right, "Newsletter", this old-fashioned, 'traditional' thing that pollutes our mailboxes. Well, at least according to Jakob Nielsen email newsletters are more powerful than stream-based media (RSS or other social media feeds) in terms of maintaining a customer relationship, i.e. because newsletters need to be deleted manually versus 'dropping off' the users' main page.

5 Newsletters well worth following


Jakob's column on Web usability is probably the most prominent and longest running newsletter out there. Jakob has been publishing his research results and findings in his bi-weekly 'Alertbox' since 1995.

Subscribe to Alertbox


Jared M. Spool and his team publish their high-quality research, interviews with grands like Luke Wroblewski, Donna Spencer, Dana Chisnell et al and special offers on User Interface Engineering. Like Nielsen he's been around for ages and their conference is on sequel 14 this year.

Subscribe to UIEtips


The Software Usability Research Laboratory (SURL) was initiated in the Fall 1998 under the direction of Barbara S. Chaparro who has over 19 years of experience designing and evaluating user interfaces and conducting research in human-computer interaction (HCI). The goal of the lab is to provide usability services and research to the software development community and to train students on HCI with real-world projects.

Subscribe to SURL

Measuring Usability

Jeff Sauro maintains a very interesting site & newsletter at Measuring Usability. He has been pushing the limits of usability engineering for a few years now in the hopes of moving toward more objective implementations of user data. His articles are published irregularly but when they are, they deliver.

Subscribe to Measuring Usability

UI Design Newsletter

Every month Human Factors International (HFI) reviews the most useful developments in user interface research from major conferences and publications. Their UI Design Newsletter covers the full range of human-computer interaction, including development, HCI issues, I/O devices, multimedia, documentation, and training.

Subscribe to UI Design Newsletter

You know another Newsletter?

Have I missed something? Post it in the comments section.


Design Guidelines: Links

Posted by Michael Gaigg

"If links were married they'd get divorced all the time! That's because they can't keep their promise." (Gerry McGovern)

What Gerry means is that what links say they will do and what they actually do are total opposites. How many times have I believed, clicked and followed a link that promised me to 'Download this or that' just to find another page describing this piece of software. There I had to muddle through even more links just to find another 'Download version' link that yet again takes me to another page acknowledging the terms and conditions. The story could go on and on.

Remember: Good links are like magnets - they drive users to them.

With that in mind, here are the

Design Guidelines for Links

  1. Color and underline link text (exceptions include lists of links like a navigation menu)
  2. Reserve underlining for links (do not underline text that is not a link)
  3. Use different colors for visited and unvisited links (e.g. shades of blue)
  4. Avoid using color for text unless it is a link and never use blue for non-text links (even if your links are not blue)
  5. Avoid changing the font style on mouse over
  6. Avoid tiny text for links
  7. Use appropriate spacing between links or use a clear separator
  8. Use links primarily for navigation between pages
  9. Link text must be describe the target as short and precise (clear call to action) as possible AND hold this promise!

Best Practices

See my blog entry for Best Practices for accessible Content



Suggested reading:

What is Accessibility?

Posted by Michael Gaigg

The purpose of web pages is to interactively display information. The Hypertext Markup Language was designed to encode meaning rather than appearance. Therefore

Accessibility is the extent of access to information on a webpage through user agents (e.g. browsers, screen readers,…) which translate HTML into hypertext structures (links, headers, tables, forms,…) in order to give the users a surplus value.

“As long as a page is coded for meaning, it is possible for alternative browsers to present that meaning in ways that are optimized for the abilities of individual users and thus facilitate the use of the Web by disabled users. Those disabilities are:

  • Visual Disabilities
  • Auditory Disabilities
  • Motor Disabilities
  • Cognitive Disabilities” [NIELSEN96]

Since Web pages are highly visual and interactive the most affected groups as far as accessibility is concerned are the visual disabled, i.e. blind users or users with other visual disabilities like color blindness and users with motor disabilities using alternative input devices or sometimes even just the keyboard instead of the mouse.

Everybody benefits!

In the same way a sidewalk curb is necessary for wheelchair accessibility it also benefits parents with strollers, children with rollerblades and elderly persons trying to cross the street. The same is true for web pages. Designing for accessiblity will not only benefit users with disabilities but will also increase your:

  • Market Share Benefits
    • SEO (search engine optimization)
    • Repurpose
    • Literacy
    • Bandwidth
  • Technical Efficiency Benefits
    • Maintenance
    • Server Bandwidth