Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

4Jun0

10 Design Lessons learned from my Sons

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Forget the Theory

The tips won't stop, everybody seems to have their own solution and books just make it harder. Just one thing is certain, all the book-smartness won't help you raise your own children. You need to get your hands dirty, learn the hard way, improve and adjust. Become street-smart, do it and do it again. And after years you still cannot add 'Father' to your resume (unless the fact that your DNA got duplicated is enough for you) because it's not a skill or attribute, it's a state of being, you will never end learning and it will never end (hopefully).

Answer the obvious questions

I get the same questions over and over again. "Are they identical?" - People tend to ask/need to know what is most obvious. It's like walking into a personal library, you just gotta ask if the person has read all the book - of course not, it's a library, it's there to look up something when you need it. But still, people need to ask the first thing that comes to their mind and that's most often the obvious. And yet you will need to answer. Get over it and free these poor souls. Answer the obvious question to get to the juicy ones.

Stop and recognize beauty

Last summer we were walking the beautiful streets of old town Salzburg, Austria. My son stopped in front of a violinist to listen to her street performance. Having had the plan in mind to get to the ice cream store before sunset I dragged him away. Only later it settled that sometimes we overlook the true beauty of everyday things, our life is too fast. Children have this innate, pure sense, plenty to learn!

Terrible two's

It's not about the tantrum or hissy fit, that sudden outburst of temper, often used to describe anger at something else trivial. Sometimes something - like feeding pizza to the cat - makes perfect sense to him but doesn't necessarily fit into our world. We have to observe, understand the meaning of the situation and decide how far we can go and when to cut it (or sometimes just let it be).

Touch is in

If something doesn't respond to touch it is broken. Having learned to operate my Android phone my 2 y/o son was frustrated and without understanding that the monitor of my workstation didn't react to touch AND swipe. Mouse? WTH...

Patience

I want to have his patience, repeating the same video, sequence, word, or task over and over again. But one can only master something through practice, and that requires diligence and patience. Both can be (re-)learned and remembered. Or like golfing legend Arnold Palmer used to say: "The more I practice, the luckier I get".

Joy

Should be a no-brainer, but my sons laugh and enjoy the small and simple things, but mostly the words, sounds and interactions that come across pure and authentic. They feel when I'm "into it", not distracted, bored, absent, etc. This passion translates into good designs, make your users feel special. Priceless!

Feedback / Responsive

Kids want feedback, a simple repeat of whatever they were mumbling helps already to show them that we 'understood' them. It's like ordering at McDonalds where the clerk at the window repeats my order, it helps me feel at ease that the other side will actually stack my burger without pickles. Kids will continue asking for you until you answer, and believe me, they will make their voices heard if you don't answer immediately.

Imagination

Imagination is basis of creativity and innovation. Being able to imagine situations is essential to understanding problem spaces and situations. "Pretending to be" is the current #1 game of my son. He is so into imagining to be "somebody else" that he can start crying when something conflicts with something that is meant for "him". Zooming into my office, bystanders probably think I am crazy when they see me staring at a blank wireframe for 1/2 hour. I'm not the type of guy that starts sketching the heck out myself, I prefer deliberating all possible situations, workflows, alternatives (at least the ones that I can come up with) in my mind first. It's like a chess player that thinks multiple moves ahead and then takes the 'best' move according to the current situation and knowledge.

What are your thoughts and experiences? Anything else to add?

31May0

Highlights of Week 21/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

6Nov0

There is a Fly in my Urinal – Questions?

Posted by Michael Gaigg

On my last trip to Europe I discovered a fly in my urinal (sorry ladies, no offense). I was surprised and a little amazed and ended up aiming for this little critter. Yes, according to Urinalfly these things "keep bathrooms up to 85% cleaner [...] by locating the fly correctly in the urinal, splashback is significantly reduced". I guess it worked, at least for my.

Fly in the urinal (Munich Airport)

Fly in the urinal (Munich Airport)

Smart, huh? Now take this:

Questions above the urinal (SeaWorld, San Diego)

Questions above the urinal (SeaWorld, San Diego)

Sea World in San Diego, CA took a different approach in keeping their 'customers' distracted: they installed little frames with question about animal conservation above the urinals. Yes, after I was done with 'my' question my eyes wondered off to my 'neighbors' question. Do NOT picture any possible implications for the cleaning personal, it wasn't like that...

16Jun0

The Three-?-stick

Posted by Michael Gaigg

The Three-?-stick is going around ... and and so it came around. Björn from the Webzeugkoffer (excellent webdesign blog in German) picked up the stick by answering 3 questions that I will answer now too:

The three questions

Which Editor do you use for (X)HTML and CSS?

I'm using Macromedia Dreamweaver. I'm still stuck at MX 2004, but I really got used to the color coding and other superficial things - it's like toothpaste, once you are hooked you'll never change again (don't ask for the trade pls).

...and notepad 😉

Which little tool became a true time saver for you?

Can't live without Firebug - seriously, can't live without it. That's not a little tool? Ok, what about ColorSet, love that also.

Flash - what do you think of that technology?

Call me a purist, but I'm really into DHTML. Unless somebody convinces me otherwise I can do what I need to do with HTML a JavaScript library like jQuery, Dojo, YUI or even the Facebook JavaScript Library.
I disliked flash when it got into 'mode' a century ago and still think that flash intros should die. Accessibility is still an issue also.

On the flipside our company created a really powerful ArcGIS API for Flex for building Rich Internet applications on top of ArcGIS Server, our internet mapping server. I might need to reconsider some of my previous believes.

I forward the three-?-stick to