When I first signed up for an account with Citizen’s Bank, it was because they provided an interface with Quicken. They allowed Quicken to download my register and submit bills for payment. I’ve been with them now about ten years, but I will soon be closing my accounts. I received a letter the other day with the ominous heading: “Important changes to your account”. They were letting me know that...
Michelle L. Connor of Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity was another speaker at Designing for the Divide. Her talk was titled Affordable Housing Does Not Have to Look Affordable. From the conference program: Almost Heaven Habitat for Humanity designed and built a 15-unit affordable housing homeownership development that is both EPA Energy Star and EarthCraft certified in rural West Virginia...
An Energized Future?
Kofi Opoku took on the divide of energy and the environment for his Designing for the Divide poster, and he did an outstanding job of it. The main visualization is a comparison of energy consumption per capita and energy production between France, the UK, Russia, the USA, China, Canada, and Germany. The size of the circle represents total production, while the color of the circle represents...
A Sign of Respect
I had a most satisfying day. One of the primary points of my Working with Developers talk is that designers should participate in the entire product development process. In my own practice, I extend this to authoring of user guides and even training of users on the software I design. Sure, user testing will give you a lot of great feedback and observations, but if you really want to know how...
Design Vocabulary: Combo Box
A combo box is a graphical user interface widget that combines a text field with a drop-down list. It allows the user to select an option from the list or type in their own. It is common to hear people refer to a drop-down list as a combo box, but this is technically incorrect. Unfortunately, the combo box is not one of the standard web browser form widgets, so designers have developed a number of...
United We Stand?
The latest project in my information visualization class was directly tied to the Designing for the Divide conference. The chair, Eve Faulkes, wanted a number of large-format posters that addressed the divides that would be discussed during the conference. Lindsey Estep chose to focus on the economy. She selected four pairs of competing stances, each pair composed of a liberal and conservative...
Designing for Change
There were a lot of outstanding talks at Designing for the Divide last weekend, but the speaker that really inspired me was Emily Pilloton, a designer that moved from San Francisco to Bertie County, North Carolina, at the behest of Dr. Chip Zullinger, the school superintendent. What started as a request to build an educational playground system evolved into a design-build high school curriculum. ...
Designing for the Divide
Whether we think of issues of governance, religion, race, the environment, economic development, education, or healthcare, the inability to communicate, cooperate or compromise erodes social capital and weakens the ability to draw on diverse skill sets to address common challenges. This conference calls for ideas that help bridge social divides from the fields of communication design, service...
Trends in Distracted Driving
Kofi Opoku took a look at distracted driving for his time series assignment. While he was able to find auto accident data going back to 1995, incident data for distracted driving was only available starting in 2004. His first graph compares distracted driving fatalities with the steady increase in wireless subscribers. The second compares distracted driving fatalities with the number of people...
Meet Me at Midwest UX
The best sort of lectures are the ones you get lost in, never realizing the time passing. We at Midwest UX feel that each one of the following talks embodies that exact quality. Immersive, reflective, and innovative: each presentation brimming with fresh ideas and concepts designed to inspire. I’ll certainly do my best to live up to that ideal. I’m happy to announce that I’ve been engaged to...
The Art of Video Games: Videos
The new Smithsonian exhibit, The Art of Video Games, has finally opened. I don’t think I’ll have a chance to catch it while it’s running—through September 30th—which is a shame, because I’m quite interested in the subject. However, I wanted to make you all aware of some great resources that the Smithsonian has made available online. There is a series of videos, including interviews with some of...
The Real Challenge
My career as a designer has been all about solving other people’s problems. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s something I quite enjoy, and I seem to be good at it. At the same time, however, I am more than a problem-solver—I am a creative. I have a desire to invent, to innovate, to create something that didn’t exist before. Sir Jonathan Ive’s comment in an interview with Mark Prigg of the...
Working with Developers: Testing
Only 36% of the designers I surveyed participate in functional testing. In fact, the only activities with less participation are bug fixing, implementation, and the writing of user guides. That’s a shame, because designers make great testers! Good designers are detail oriented, a trait that is also important to testing. Designers use the system more like the users will than like the developers use...
Melanoma in the United States
Lindsey Estep decided to research Melanoma for her time series project, and she found some interesting data. Although melanoma of the skin appears less significant than other major cancers, its incidence rates have been steadily increasing. Perhaps surprising, the effects of this stealthy cancer are not limited to sunny, coastal areas. Her graphs show that while the occurrence of melanoma is...