Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

16Apr0

T-Shirt: Trust me I’m a Designer

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Here is a must-have for all design geeks out there: Trust me I'm a Designer Tee Shirt!

And believe me, it's not only a vision test, it's a test in your faith as being a designer 🙂

Btw. I'm a designer and I approve this message.

Trust me I'm a Designer Tee Shirt

Trust me I'm a Designer Tee Shirt

14Nov0

What is ‘Web 2.0’ and why it should matter to you

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Bullshitr

Create your own web 2.0 BS at http://www.emptybottle.org/bullshit/

It's been 4 years since the term 'Web 2.0' became popular and I still hear critiques that it doesn't mean anything. Common arguments include 'nothing new', 'not based on a new technology', 'just a trend/bubble' or 'just a marketing buzzword'. Here I am, taking a stand by telling you why Web 2.0 isn't just another buzz or bubble, why Web 2.0 became and is common wisdom and why Web 2.0 should actually matter to you. Call it differently if you feel thrown off by the marketing jargon but have a peak at Scott Berkun's extraordinary take on web 2.0:

"We have always been collaborative. Always been social. It’s in our genes and it’s what we have evolved to do well. Good technologies enhance our natural abilities, give us useful artificial ones, and help us to get more of what we want from life. Web 2.0 and social media make the process of collaboration and developing relationships more fun, efficient, powerful and meaningful."

Web 2.0 is a Transition

Web 2.0 is neither a trend nor a revolution, Web 2.0 is the transition from

  • proprietary web applications to open services platforms
  • monolithic releases to perpetual beta
  • publishing to participation
  • static content to syndication
  • directories (taxonomy) to tagging (folksonomy).
  • ...

Add to this list by sending me a comment.

Web 2.0 is Power to the People

Web 2.0 is software that gets better the more people use it! Sites like del.icio.us, Flickr, eBay or Amazon base their success on the use and contributions by their users. Social networking sites measure their success by the involvment of their participants.

Trust your Users! Now that is what I really love! Wikipedia is probably the ultimate example of an experiment of trust, content creation through the user community - yes, it works! Amazon's reviews distinguish them from other online bookstores like Barnes and Nobles that work with exactly the same data stores, just Amazon makes use of suggestions, ratings and other statistics to enhance their search results and create a basis of trust. Same holds true for eBay's reputation system or Googles PageRank.

Some rights reserved! Share, Remix, Reuse - Legally. 'Hacking' and 'Mixing' (creating mash-ups) is crucial for creative work and probably the single-most important movement of our time, thanks Creative Commons.

You control your own data! Syndicate, add, upload, tag, allow, deny, connect! It's about you and your data, with all its benefits, dangers and responsibilities, but wonderfully powerful 🙂

Web 2.0 is the Next Generation

I don't mean the next generation of technology, as a matter of fact none of the key technologies XHTML & CSS, DOM manipulation, XML & XSLT, XMLHttpRequest and JavaScript is new. I mean the Next Generation of Users, the Net Gen. It is no surprise to me that the flagship website Facebook was created by a Net Gen-er (Mark Zuckerberg) who at the age of 20 understood how to apply the existing technology to the demands and desires of the new generation.

His vision embodied some of the core competencies of Web 2.0 companies (from What is Web 2.0):

  • Services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability
  • Control over unique, hard-to-recreate data sources that get richer as more people use them
  • Trusting users as co-developers
  • Harnessing collective intelligence
  • Leveraging the long tail through customer self-service
  • Software above the level of a single device
  • Lightweight user interfaces, development models, AND business models

Facebook scores high in most competencies but like every early-adopter had and still has to face concerns and rejections for others. Facebook had to appologize when huge protests occurred after introducing the News Feed in 2006 which is now the most used part of Facebook or dealing with privacy concerns about the social advertising system Beacon.

And to be honest, I still don't understand the real power and use behind Facebook. At this point I should make space for the next generation like my friend Robert who offered to give some insight and explains:

"When you look at vamp bites, slaps, gifts and all, it seems pretty pointless. I'm a big fan of my feed though ( obviously ). Facebook pulls data from Twitter, Flickr, Digg, Last.fm, Hulu and Google Reader --- so I see feed more like 'This is a slice of Rob's life, RIGHT NOW' instead of 'Here's some stupid stuff he did on Facebook...'"

and how he thinks about Privacy:

"Yeah, I don't have much online privacy. Everything but my age, which is out there but I make it a little harder to get. I find that If someone knows my age first, It might be a problem. If they learn it last, no problem at all. I like people to be able to talk to me, I want all my info to be assessable. I can't really think of anyone who I wouldn't want to have my info that couldn't get it anyway; but I do know people who I want to have my info but might not be able to get it otherwise. Plus, I love messing with the internet shy."

Why does Web 2.0 matter?

Businesses need to understand the opportunities and potential offered by Web 2.0 and its changing user behavior. To become or stay competitive, companies need to create applications that learn from their users and support an architecture of participation. Understanding and implementation of one or more of the following Web 2.0 concepts are paramount:

  • Users add value: Involve your users in adding value to your application
  • Trust your Users: Provide users with the tools to create unique, hard to create content which will eventually give you a competitive advantage.
  • The Perpetual Beta: Engage your users as real-time testers and instrument the services so that you know how people use the new services.
  • Cooperate, don't control: Offer API's and content syndication and re-use data services of others.
  • Some Rights Reserved: Keep barriers of adoption low. Use licenses with as few restrictions as possible.
  • Utilize Network Effects: Aggregate user data as a side-effect of their use of the application.
14Nov0

Design Guidelines: ‘About Us’ Page

Posted by Michael Gaigg

IT Solutions About Us page

Example of an 'About Us' page from IT Solutions

There are many reasons for improving the usability of your 'About Us' page. Unfortunately many companies, especially bigger and well-known companies, tend to underestimate the value that comes from a well-designed 'About Us' page or simply assume that there is no need to explain themselves to their users.

The 'About Us' page helps to establish and re-enforce Trust and Credibility. Users of different backgrounds may need to know who is behind the content or service. Should I invest in this company? Apply for a job? Write an article about their service? Order a product?

The best news over all is: a simple link on your homepage is cheap and easy and the benefits of a clean and well-structured 'About Us' page outweigh many times the effort of creating it.

Design Guidelines for 'About Us' pages

  1. Provide clearly visible link on homepage
  2. Label the link either “About ” or “About Us”
  3. Present content in ‘inverted pyramid’ layers:
    • Tagline: Few words or brief sentence summarizing what you do
    • Summary: One to two paragraphs about goals and main accomplishments
    • Fact sheet: Section that outlines key points and other essential facts
    • Details: Subsidiary pages providing indebt information about processes, company structure, philosophy etc.
  4. Disclose address

References