Michael Gaigg: Über UI/UX Design

26Oct12

Stop the Rotating Banner Sliders

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Stop

Stop

I'm not a big fan of the (auto-)rotating banner carousels but I have never been really able to articulate why. So I looked beyond my personal taste horizon and found two excellent points of view by my colleagues Neal Dinoff and Art Zippel.

Analytics

Neal Dinoff (Esri Marketing Analytics Manger) offers some quantitative insights:

Most people visit a website with a specific objective. They scan the homepage for any link they believe will get them closer to accomplishing their objective. Few stay on a homepage long enough to view a slideshow. Using the CrazyEgg analysis of click timing on the Esri.com homepage, the majority of visitors click a homepage link within 5 seconds. Our homepage slides rotate every 7 seconds. That means most visitors to Esri.com never see the second and third slide in rotation. At a conference I recently attended, IBM’s web metrics analyst confirmed their site had the same problem.

and Neal continues talking about organizational motivations of including carousels and explains that

Organizations like homepage slideshows because it's a way of placating everyone who desperately believes their special interest deserves/requires homepage presence. From the user's perspective, they are generally worthless. They don't solve a user problem or meet a user need. Homepage slideshows are usually the opposite of user-centered design.

User-centered Design

Arthur Zippel recently shared an article with a video (5 minutes) talking about how typefaces directly affect readability. As a result Art started looking at autorotating banners from the behavioral side and whether similar effects would apply and add to distraction and overall loss of comprehension:

Because my primary focus here at Esri is the website I'm curious if there is any correlation with the findings in their very specific study and comprehension. We know that website visitors scan content when they are on a web page even when they are on a desktop with no fear of crashing their chair into their coffee cup or being pulled over by the office texting police. We know that distractions play a large role in attention, and that attention plays a large role in comprehension. I think autorotation banners make it more difficult for users to focus on page content because they create a distraction away from page content.

Knowing this, it is worth considering that if, one of the primary reasons for autorotation banners are a desire to manage minimal screen real estate, then is it the most effective solution? From a user-experience perspective, it think the widespread use of autorotation banners is interesting. Based on specific content on a page (link) a user indicates a desire to see additional specific content only to be presented with a distraction (autorotation banner), this doesn't seem like a completely successful experience. And with Halloween coming up, might I say it could even border on diabolical and horrific ;) Remember, this is an intentional action on the point of those who manage websites.

I am constantly reminded that a widespread, common, popular practice by very large companies has absolutely no intrinsic correlation to UCD best practices. If you believe that companies always conduct valid testing for what they put on a website and that what they deploy is transferable to all other companies and their goals, then I have a bridge for sale.

Solutions

  • Build a meaningful site structure and navigation architecture.
  • Provide relevant headers and content.
  • Use and show links that speak to the user's intention for visiting the site.
  • Spare the huge banner images in favor of smaller, more focused teaser pics.
  • Avoid thinking in organizational terms aka we need to satisfy manager XYZ and put up a nice banner image about his cause.
  • Stop thinking about what could be interesting to your users but rather identify the context in which your target audience looks for something on your page and how they arrived (through search engine, direct mailing, etc.)

Tim Ash offers even more reasons: Rotating Banners? Just Say No!

What are your Thoughts/Experiences?

19Jul3

Job Posting: UX Designer & Visual Designer

Posted by Michael Gaigg

I'd like to forward two job postings by Sooriaraj Jeyaraman who is trying to fill two positions for the design team of the new Location Analytics initiative.

Feel free to submit your resume directly to Sooriaraj Jeyaraman. Thanks!

User Experience Designer

Overview / Job Description

Esri, the leader in geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping technology, is looking for an exceptional user experience designer.

Join a dynamic and energetic team working to bring Esri mapping and location analytics to the world of Business Analytics. Working alongside a focused team of product managers, developers and other user experience designers you will be responsible for setting new standards for the way users visualize their data on a map and perform analytics with maps.

The ideal candidate will be a practical-minded perfectionist who has the creative skills to grasp & simplify complex business processes through the creation of extremely intuitive user interfaces. While these are business systems, the user experience must be as easy and intuitive as the best consumer experiences.

You must be a natural collaborator who is used to develop designs in a team environment with multiple stakeholders. A passion for elegant design and incorporating new and innovative technologies is a must. Exceptional attention to detail and a good eye for aesthetics are crucial.

Requirements / Skills:

  • Strong, demonstrated understanding of User-centered design methodology
  • Experience in utilizing user research to drive design decisions
  • Solid skills in interaction design, user research, conceptual development, prototyping and usability testing
  • Experience in creating process flows, wireframes and mockups to effectively conceptualize and present detailed interaction behaviors
  • Experience in creating detailed user interface specifications
  • A strong working knowledge and experience in using tools such as Balsamiq, Axure, OmniGraffle, Photoshop/Illustrator, PowerPoint, Flash Catalyst at various design stages
  • Worked and designed Desktop, Web and Mobile applications & solutions
  • Experience with usability assessment techniques including usability heuristics, contextual enquiry and conducting lab-based usability testing
  • Worked in a cross functional team environment in an agile development process
  • Handled multiple projects at the same time
  • Experience collaborating and working closely with the UX team members.
  • Experience communicating effectively to the stakeholders
  • Experience in creatively solving complex problems within aggressive deadlines
  • A portfolio demonstrating past work experience and relevant User-Centered Design solutions

Experience:

  • A Master’s degree in Human Factors, Human Computer Interaction, Usability Engineering, Cognitive Psychology or such related field
  • Minimum two years of work experience in user experience design

Visual Designer

Overview / Job Description

Esri, the leader in geographic information systems (GIS) and mapping technology, is looking for an exceptional visual designer.

Join a dynamic and energetic team working to bring Esri mapping and location analytics to the world of Business Analytics. Working alongside a focused team of product managers, developers and other user experience designers you will be responsible for setting new standards for the way users visualize their data on a map and perform analytics with maps.

The ideal candidate will be a practical-minded perfectionist who has the creative skills to grasp & simplify complex business processes through the creation of extremely intuitive user interfaces and engaging visual and motion designs. While these are business systems, the user experience must be as easy and intuitive as the best consumer experiences.

You must be a natural collaborator who is used to develop designs in a team environment with multiple stakeholders. A passion for elegant design and incorporating new and innovative technologies is a must. Exceptional attention to detail and a good eye for aesthetics are crucial.

Requirements / Skills:

  • Strong, demonstrated understanding of User-centered design methodology
  • Experience in utilizing user research to drive design decisions
  • Exceptional skills in Photoshop, Illustrator and other layout and design tools.
  • Knowledge and experience using animation software such as Flash and/or After Effects
  • Good general understanding of web and mobile platforms and experience producing designs and assets for them
  • Excellent understanding of general design principles and practices
  • Ability to create balanced, well formed layouts in print and interactive projects
  • Strong background in typography and color theory
  • Familiarity and facility with icon creation and icon systems
  • Top-notch communication skills
  • Efficient time management
  • Strong design portfolio that shows great potential

Experience:

  • Bachelor's degree in graphic design, web development or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • 1-2 years experience in professional interactive design capacity
10Jul3

Lifespan is an important Design Decision

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Mayan mahem

Mayan mahem

The lifespan of a planned application or website is an important (and often overlooked) requirements influencer. Many questions come to mind that appear to be technical in nature but have to be understood by the designer to optimize their design decisions on capabilities and known limitations of the target technology. Designs can never truly be technology agnostic and in my opinion if they are, then this fact will create gaps between design and implementation later on. So you better be aware of them.

Typical Questions to ask:

  • Will the app be likely be superseded by something else within the next 6 months?
  • Is another known technology catching up and soon more prominent than our current target technology?
  • Do we rely on third-party tools/plugins that need to be maintained or maybe will render our application unmaintainable?

Especially the last question bares high risk of failure. If you rely on a JavaScript's front-end framework - like we all do - say, jQuery UI, chances are that our designs will a) be limited and b) sometime be stuck in the middle once a major redesign hits us. If the redesign happens before the end of the planned/anticipated lifespan of our app, cost and effort to upgrade might not be feasible and thus we cannot upgrade to the latest versions anymore. The End.

Scalability

Amount for various cases where your design needs to be flexible enough to handle changes over time. These can include:

  • Administration: more objects (users, items) are added over time. Does the app provide pagination? Search? How easy can they be plugged in?
  • Load: processing times increase. How will the system display delays in page refreshes? Download times?
  • Client requests: more functionality needs to be added. Is the design flexible enough to accommodate another button or menu item? Etc.
  • i18n: multi-language support needed? Now? Later? Maybe?
  • Accessibility: is it worth the effort?
  • Support for MVP (minimal viable product) and incremental improvements?

In many ways the Maya calendar and it's associated 2012 phenomenon are a good example for design decisions based on lifespan. Who cared back then that after 5125 years the calendar would need to be reset (or cannot handle more combinations), like many software systems didn't take into consideration what is now known as the Y2K or Millennium bug which was caused by the practice of abbreviating a four-digit year to two digits for pure storage consideration, which nowadays in our abundance world of storage is really hard to follow. But hey, it costed an estimated remediatioin of $416.- in today's currency world-wide.

Lesson

Take into consideration the lifespan of your app when designing it. Any negligence is careless design and may result in increased cost or even an unmaintainable or unusable product later on.

What are your experiences with lifespan?

19Mar26

The 4 Questions of Strategy

Posted by Michael Gaigg

4 steps of strategy

Just described 'strategy' to a consultant and thought to share my awesome whiteboard drawing ;)

The 4 questions of defining strategy are:

  1. Where am I now?
  2. Where do I want to go?
  3. How do I get there?
  4. How do I define success?

The success criteria is crucial. It's the metric for any decision you need to take along the way, it will help you determine which design is 'better'.

29Feb34

Windows 8 UX design guidelines

Posted by Michael Gaigg

The Windows 8 UX design guidelines are out. They are part of the Dev Center for Metro style apps and provide some nice learning resources that include

  • Design Principles - Understand the basic principles of great Metro style app design.
  • UX patterns - Learn how to correctly implement common patterns in Metro style apps like navigation, commanding, and touch interactions.
  • UX guidelines - Discover recommendations and requirements for building Metro style apps with the proper look, feel, and user-interaction model.
  • Downloading design assets - Get started designing apps quickly with a portfolio of reusable wireframes, redlines, fonts, and other useful design resources.
  • Assessing usability of apps - Assess your app's design to ensure the user experience is outstanding, and that users will find it useful, usable, and desirable.
5Dec0

Highlights for Week 48/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

1Aug0

Highlights of Week 30/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

7Jun1

Highlights of Week 22/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

10Mar8

List of UX Conferences in 2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Here a list of interesting User Experience/Usability Conferences in 2011 (thanks to Sooria for sharing):

Do you have any past experiences you'd like to share? Did I miss one? Tell me in the comments!

18Jan0

Highlights of Week 02/2011

Posted by Michael Gaigg

Happy New Year and welcome back. After a wonderful family vacation in Austria, Europe (and white Christmas) I'm back and pleased to share my insights and what I'm learning for myself on a daily basis with you. As always, if you have an interesting article or link you want to bring to my attention, post it in the comments or tweet @michaelgaigg.

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