Information Design Watch

August 28, 2008, 11:28 am

Groovin’ with Some Energy

By Henry Woodbury

Areva Ad FrameHere’s an ad that actually caused me to click.

Areva, “the no. 1 nuclear energy products and services vendor in America,” has constructed a new print and Internet ad campaign around the birds-eye isometric view of its world. The Web animation shows energy production and use from mining to power generation to the disco.

It reminded me of the Royskopp video we linked here, but with a somewhat different rationale. Both animations were done by the French firm H5 (look under FILMS > CLIPS for Royskopp; under FILMS > PUBLICITE for Areva).

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Branding, Business, Illustration, Infographics, Information Design, Marketing, Visual Explanation

August 28, 2008, 10:57 am

Infoviz Art on Slate

By Lisa Agustin

Slate offers its take on “infoviz art” via this slide show of visualizations. It includes the usual candidates, like Martin Wattenberg’s famous Name Voyager, as well as lesser-known works like Golan Levin’s The Dumpster, a visualization of blog-documented teenage breakups from 2005, which was co-commissioned by The Whitney Museum’s ArtPort and Tate Online.

The Dumpster

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (0) | Filed under: Art, Charts and Graphs, Infographics, Information Design, Visual Explanation

August 25, 2008, 9:55 am

Designing a Better Ballot

By Henry Woodbury

Palm Beach Butterfly Ballot

Debates about voting access often focus on the way votes are tallied: paper vs. electronic; touchscreen vs. optical scan. But a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law asserts that consistent design and clear instructions are possibly more important than technology:

When it comes to ensuring that votes are accurately recorded and tallied, there is a respectable argument that poor ballot design and confusing instructions have resulted in far more lost votes than software glitches, programming errors, or machine breakdowns. As this report demonstrates, poor ballot design and instructions have caused the loss of tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of votes in nearly every election year.

The report, Better Ballots (PDF), emphatically states the importance of good design — and good design practices, such as usability testing:

Usability testing is the best way to make sure that voters can use the ballot successfully, confident that they actually voted for the candidates and positions they intended to vote for. Usability testing allows election officials to observe individual voters using a ballot — before the electionin order to see where they have problems. This allows election officials to analyze the design and language choices to determine the cause of those problems. They can then redesign and rewrite the ballot to eliminate those problemsbefore the election. Unfortunately, the vast majority of jurisdictions do not conduct usability testing of their ballots before an election. Of course, all ballots will eventually receive a usability teston Election Day. At that point, unfortunately, finding out that a ballot is confusing to voters is most unwelcome news.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (1) | Filed under: Current Events, Information Design, Usability

August 20, 2008, 9:33 am

Pop vs. Soda

By Henry Woodbury

My brother sent me a link to the “The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy” along with this comment:

When I got to BYU I found it funny that one of my Rocky Mountain friends referred to Soda as Pop.  I said, “Pop is what you call your dad!”  He said, “Soda is a cracker.” Apparently some folks mapped out the colloquial use of Soda vs. Pop and it proves that both my friend and I were right!

The Pop vs. Soda site includes an interactive version of the map below, as well as a more sophisticated rendering of the data by county. You can also submit your own data. The most recent map on the site dates back to 2003, but a stats table appears to be updated daily.

Pop vs. Soda

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (1) | Filed under: Language, Maps, Visual Explanation

August 7, 2008, 9:02 am

Do Web Designers and Site Visitors Agree on Web Site Effectiveness?

By Kirsten Robinson

Sathish Menon and Michael Douma at IDEA report on their survey to compare expectations about the online experience among web designers, non-profit organizations, and site visitors. Not surprisingly, they found a few discrepancies. For example, “Designers underestimate the thresholds for an effective site,” and “Designers are overly optimistic about visitors’ ability to maintain orientation.” Yet another argument for practicing user-centered design, including user research and usability testing.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (0) | Filed under: Usability, User Experience, Web Interface Design

August 6, 2008, 11:38 am

Housing by the Numbers

By Henry Woodbury

Carl Bialik, The Numbers Guy at The Wall Street Journal (WSJ.com), directs attention to a new site that culls public government data to map neighborhoods, cities, and states by real-estate values, demographics, income and other indices:

PolicyMap was created by The Reinvestment Fund, a Philadelphia-based organization that finances urban development. The group found that it needed mapping tools to help it choose neighborhoods for investment, and also to help investors track their projects in the context of neighborhood characteristics rather than through unenlightening pie charts. [my emphasis]

The result is a Google-Maps-like tool that easily maps geographically-based information using mostly public data (additional data sets and projections of public data are available to subscribers). For example, the sample below shows household income in our home city of Providence, Rhode Island (USA) in some of the neighborhoods around Brown University.

Sample PolicyMap output, Providence, Rhode Island

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (0) | Filed under: Maps, Visual Explanation

August 1, 2008, 10:38 am

The Pop Charts

By Henry Woodbury

Recently we came across two sites generating comic pop-culture charts — GraphJam and Song Chart Meme on Flickr. Song Chart Meme is all about pop songs. GraphJam charts pop songs, movies, and the occasional bad joke. Here’s a sample from each.

From GraphJam:

World events according to Vizzini

From Song Chart Meme:

Countries that should cry for me

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon

Comments (0) | Filed under: Charts and Graphs, Infographics, Visual Explanation