Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design


Highlights for Week 50/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Highlights of Week 29/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Highlights of Week 22/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Including Tweets into your Webpage

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Very simple and effective. I started off researching into php libraries for twitter before I settled on a very pragmatic approach which I'd like to share here. I separated the code into smaller bits for clarity and better understanding.

Somewhere in your code include this HTML snippet (style the HTML using CSS id selectors):

<div id="twitter-container">
   <div id="twitter-container-content">
      <!-- tweet retrieval in here -->

Copy and paste the actual PHP tweet retrieval code into the section above. Don't forget to rename the screen_name to whatever your twitter handle is 😉

print("<h2>Latest Tweets</h2>");
ini_set('display_errors', true);
$user = new SimpleXMLElement('http://api.twitter.com/1/statuses/user_timeline.xml?screen_name=michaelgaigg&count=3',null,true);
foreach($user->status as $status){
	print("<div class=\"twitter-entry\">");
	print("<div class=\"twitter-entry-text\">".renderUrls($status->text)."</div>");

Add this PHP helper function (maybe you have a tools class) that will parse the tweet and detect hyperlinks which are then wrapped into the HTML A tag so that they become clickable.

function renderUrls($originalString) {
	$returnString = "";
	$stringToArray = explode(" ",$originalString);
	foreach($stringToArray as $key=>$val) {
		//$URL_Validation = ereg("^[^@ ]+@[^@ ]+\.[^@ ]+$", $val, $trashed);
		$returnString .= (substr($val,0,7) == "http://") ? "<a href='".$val."' target='_blank'>".$val."</a> " : $val." ";
	return $returnString;

That's it, no magic!

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Highlights of Week 39/2010

Posted by Michael Gaigg


Highlights of week 51/2009

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Highlights of week 51/2009

  • 7 Controversial Usability Predictions for 2010 (by W Craig Tomlin) is in my eyes not as controversial as stated and surely a good read for everyone working in this field.
  • Seth Godin was kind enough to share his book What Matters Now as a free download. You'll find more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about. Good Xmas read, thanks!
  • LinkedIn announced its faceted search feature which is based on eight facets: company, past company, location, relationship, location, industry, school and profile languages. It really comes in handy when searching for people by location or friendship degree, something that Facebook is badly lacking still.
  • URL shortening is big not only since Twitter hit the 140 character message limit. This week Facebook and Google announced their very own services, goo.gl and fb.me with bit.ly announcing its plans for Bit.ly Pro, a service that lets publishers create their own custom short URLs that use the Bit.ly platform.
  • Menu Mind Games, really funny and quick read about the marketing tricks built into menus, for example, how something as simple as typography can drive you toward or away from that $39 steak.

Go figure: Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

Posted by Michael Gaigg

I'm still smiling about David McCandless's Hierarchy of Digital Distractions, a visual representation of digital things that matter to us. Well, some of them more than others.

In the shape of a pyramid the illustration reminds us of the order of importance model as suggested by Maslow's hierarchy of needs where the most fundamental need - earning our bread and butter (any kind of actual work) - is at base. Activities higher in the pyramid require more of our attention and 'trump' the activities below. Moving up in the pyramid means re-prioritizing activities by focusing on lesser important but subjectively more fulfilling needs.

The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

The Hierarchy of Digital Distractions

So, if you in the midst of a phone call on one of those ancient Landlines, a New Voicemail will catch your attention which in turn will be trumped by a Mobile Phone call in silent vibrating only before the next Text Message comes in which obviously is not as important as a Mobile Phone call. Beware of buying an iPhone though because anything happening on your iPhone will overpower the before mentioned.

An email from a romantic partner will always rule over any skype call and a new message from your online dating service which is in return more important than an @message on twitter, a message on facebook or a new contact on flickr. All this happens is fine until one of your devices crash or your partner shuts the lid of your laptop on your fingers.

What's your funny interpretation?


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

Posted by Michael Gaigg


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.