Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

13Mar0

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.

12Apr0

Implications of the Inability of Users to Search Effectively

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Jakob Nielsen outlines in his latest alertbox newsletter (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/search-skills.html) the inability of users to search effectively.

Findings

My colleague Neal Dinoff, Esri Usability Lab Manager, summarized the article and outlined Jakob Nielsen's core findings:

  • People (even highly educated people) have remarkably poor search skills.
  • Once they head down a keyword path, no matter how fruitless, they seldom change their search strategy
  • Users will enter search terms into any open text field with no understanding of whether they are searching the whole site, the World Wide Web, or only a discreet section of the site.
  • Users are overconfident in the reliability of results.
  • Almost no one uses Advanced Search. When they do, they use it incorrectly.

Lessons

Neal continues to conclude lessons for our search design:

  • Don't assume that advanced search will help your website; you might build such features, but people will use them only in exceptional cases.
  • Spend the vast majority of your resources on improving regular search (simple search).
  • Design for the way the world is, not the way we wish it were. This means accepting search dominance, and trying to help users with poor research skills.

Implications

I believe more implications can be deducted:

  • Curate (make sense of) content (!!!):
    • Aggregate (most relevant in one location)
    • Distill (more simplistic)
    • Elevate (identify and describe trends/insights)
    • Mashup (create new points of view based on multiple sources)
  • Every page is a potential landing page, so help user to:
    • Locate themselves (titles)
    • Provide context (the bigger picture)
    • Find the content/functions they were originally looking for
    • Navigate further (well thought-through navigation architecture + good links + meaningful footer links)
  • Create pages so that they can be found through:
    • Search Engine Optimization (metatags, headings, etc.)
    • Write in the language of your users, that’s how they will search

What are your Experiences?

2Jul0

Free book online: Search User Interfaces

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Marti Hearst generously made her upcoming book "Search User Interfaces" available for reading online. She is definitely not a newcomer to the scene and the book for sure not a Best-Of compilation, moreover the book is written in an academic fashion that backs up its theses usability studies, log studies, or some other form of proof (like it!) - like Harry Brignull states: "Caution: actual thought may be required when reading this book."

Contents: Search User Interfaces

The book has two main parts: search fundamentals (Chapters 1-7) and advanced topics (Chapters 8-12).

0: Preface
1: Design of Search User Interfaces
2: Evaluation of Search User Interfaces
3: Models of the Information Seeking Process
4: Query Specification
5: Presentation of Search Results
6: Query Reformulation
7: Supporting the Search Process
8: Integrating Navigation with Search
9: Personalization in Search
10: Information Visualization for Search Interfaces
11: Information Visualization for Text Analysis
12: Emerging Trends in Search Interfaces
References
Index

Suggested reading: