1

Oct

Multi-poll tracker

By Noah | Add a comment | 

The Takeaway has a clever interactive graph, showing the summary from a different poll or tracking web site on each row, and the states as columns. Column width reflects the number of electoral votes for that state. It’s a good way to get an aggregate view of what’s going on, as each source is a little different.

They’ve done a great job with this; it’s a great presentation of a ton of information abstracted in a constructive manner. The key issues (weight and inclination of each state) are present, with very little else to get in the way.

There are a few changes I’d make. The mouseover key is a little awkward, as it obstructs a lot of the image. I probably would have gotten rid of it altogether, and put the state info in the footer, as they’ve done with the poll name and score. I probably also would have put the score for each row in the row, either at the left, near the icon, or in a rightmost column, rather than forcing you to mouseover each column.

Filed in UX, Visualization  |  Tags: , ,

1

Jun

Pixel rulers in Visio

By Noah | Add a comment | 

Should you be required to work in Visio, you may well find yourself, as I did, wishing to measure your drawing in pixels. I couldn’t figure out how do do it, though Visio does support such diverse measurements as Ciceros and Didots.

I finally found the definitive answer from Microsoft: For some types of drawings, you may want to change the measurement units to pixels. However, a pixel isn’t a unit of measurement. A pixel is just a dot on a screen and the size of the dot varies for different screens. To simulate pixels, set the measurement units to points.

Needless to say, this is not satisfying. It’s true a pixel is only an on-screen measure, and is clearly only useful for a few, obscure situations, such as when creating interface mockups, wireframes, or prototypes for software, the web, or any other sort of images meant to be viewed on a screen.

Luckily, Visio provides a set of features that allow a fairly simple, two step work-around. Warning: doing this on existing Visio documents may severely distort your existing drawings. I suggest working on duplicate files, not originals. keep reading…

Filed in UX  |  Tags: , , , ,

4

Apr

Zillow diagram of market segment value changes

By Noah | Add a comment | 

Zillow has posted a series of excellent diagrams which show relative changes in assorted housing markets, broken down by segment. Their diagrams are very clear and allow fairly quick access to a lot of good information. Please go explore there, and then come back here for my commentary. keep reading…

28

Jan

Multi-touch: Why the iPhone Matters

By Noah | Add a comment | 

The introduction of the iPhone heralded the mainstreaming of a new interface paradigm. Features and form factor aside, the multi-touch interface represents the first major interface change since the introduction of the Macintosh GUI in 1984, and a notable shift in the right direction.

Twenty years ago, Donald Norman described the relationship between a control and its effect as mapping. “Natural mapping, by which I mean taking advantage of physical analogies and cultural standards, leads to immediate understanding.” (Norman, D. 1990. The Design of Everyday Things. Doubleday/Currency. P23.) Unfortunately, when there is not a “natural mapping,” understanding is anything but immediate.

Technology interfaces are difficult to design and learn because interfaces have moved further and further away from natural mappings. When the tool in question is an axe or a spoon, the relationship between the control and its effect is clear and direct. Similarly, for simple mechanical tools such as food grinders, adjustable wrenches, latches, and the like, it’s not too difficult to divine the function with no documentation. The interface is inseparable from the tool or device, and the mapping is strong. keep reading…

Filed in UX  |  Tags: , ,

7

Jan

Shopping cart map

By Noah | Add a comment | 

Visiting unfamiliar contexts can lead to interesting discoveries. In this case I’m in Williamsburg Virginia, and was impressed that a regional grocery chain, Bloom, had store maps mounted on their shopping cart handles. Brilliant.

Shopping cart map
(click for full sized image)

A quick google for them reveals a blurb where they characterize their stores as “uncomplicated” and “hassle-free.” Their aim for a positive customer experience seems to be yielding some good ideas.

Filed in UX  |  Tags: , ,
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