You may be directed to this site by me, only to find there are not too many updates. Some parents out there will laugh at the following, but I thought I could keep a new website up to date while working a full time job and having a son. This proves to be a bit more complicated, as Lukas is an active guy keeping me quite busy, especially as a stay-home-dad.
I will keep posting, but at a low frequency for now.
I have been listening to some podcasts on sketch noting recently, and after listening to one with Mike Rohde, I browsed and stumbled upon this one, about Data Visualization, a talk by Noah Illinski:
I guess it may not be for everyone, but I would never read someone else’s written notes (I hardly ever read my own) but this gives a quick overview in an easy to consume way.
I work in a very technical field, where people like thinking in solutions. Unfortunately this also means we often think of solutions before we finish listening to our clients when they describe their problems and requirements. A few days ago I walked through one of Calgary’s parks, and noticed the city had paved a path that was originally created by people continuously walking on the grass. It reminded me of a story I once read where a professor suggested not to plan paved walks yet on a new campus, but just cover everything with grass, leave it for the first year and let the users decide where the paths should be by walking on the grass and thus creating these paths in the process. I quickly Googled the picture below which demonstrates this quite well.
In the campus example the designers basically listened to the client for a full year, and although that may not be applicable to every project environment, I am sure the paths that were eventually paved in were used well.
Listening is a tough skill, and it’s tempting to "know better than the client" because it our specialty after all. But even though we may be right sometimes, a happy client getting what he wants still works best, especially when they pay the bill. And if you keep telling your city they need to put in a path, it will (eventually) get there.
When I studied GIS we where doing a lot of cool projects, and they were a lot of fun to work on because all data was available and clean, we could decide what was best for the project and there was no client who would tell us differently, other than a teacher trying to play tough. But after graduating I soon found out those types of projects never showed up in the “real world”.
The GIS field has matured a lot since then, and I am sure courses now give actual real world examples to work on, so that students are more and better prepared for the more challenging reality. Still though, occasionally I talk to a frustrated and recently graduated GIS tech, complaining about a map not working because in school he could just focus on more fun stuff and datasets generally just worked.
Through many blogs I follow through FlipBoard I see a lot of data visualizations that look cool and in a few cases interesting, but appear to serve no purpose and make no point. Way too many
infographics are even worse. Surely many of these are made as internal or student projects, or for training purposes, and as such they may work well. But I love seeing cool and interesting data visualizations, that actually have a purpose of communicating information quickly and in such a way that the user doesn’t need to know all details to understand what he or she is seeing, and those are truly rare. It’s not the cool factor that matters (to me) but the effectiveness of the data visualization. That the balance is in favor of the “pretty” ones most likely has to do with the fact they are the easy ones, and with infographics and data visualizations being a hot topic (like GIS was when I started) everybody wants to have a quick go at it.
You may note I don’t have many personal examples, if any, and I must and will admit it is easy to comment from the outside. But I am sure I am not alone in this, even just by following the virtual boxing match between Stephen Few and David McCandless. Both are good at what they do I suppose, but to all Stephens and alike, please keep up the great and useful work so the people that are willing to learn and put in the effort keep seeing material worth waiting for.
Over the last few years I have gathered a significant number of blogs I follow in Google Reader, which I mostly read through FlipBoard. Now my plan was to provide some structure before posting this, but I might as well wait for a year without snow here in Canada. so here it is in unsorted format:
Enjoy, and feel free to share, credit would be appreciated!
Posting from email, bare with me with this test
What do I remember from my trip today to HomeDepot? Waiting. A lot of waiting. At the return section, even though there were three cashiers around the corner waiting for clients. At the tiling department, only to hear that the tiles to be picked up had to be collected at the special services. At special services, as the warehouse must be a long walk for the person who’s job it is to get ordered packages for clients. In tool more than 30 minutes of waiting, just to pick some items.
Is “waiting” what HomeDepot wants me to remember from this experience or to think about when I hear “HomeDepot”? It didn’t make me buy more stuff, and it surely doesn’t want me to go back for a future purchase.
I am probably not the average customer HomeDepot is aiming for, and perhaps I am one of the few people noticing “idle” staff within 5 meters of wanting customers. It makes me think of one of the Charlie Chaplin movies where he just turns a bolt, blind to anything happening around him. And of Seth Godin’s “it’s not my job” rule for bad design.
All I have left to do is taking a positive spin: a lot of work for user experience design out there, and a topic to write about. Oh, and putting my new tiles on our new fireplace. But that can wait a bit.
Monday evening I had the unpleasant experience of losing my phone and internet connection. As it was below -30 C it wasn’t a complete shock that things that are outside could break. My issue was not that my phone and internet service was broken, but the fact I could not find any information regarding this outage. My best luck was by phoning the Support line (using my cell), where I was greeted with a ” your estimated waiting time is 15-24 minutes”. When you get a fairly accurate estimate you get your hopes up, right? One hour and 15 minutes later (that’s 75 minutes) I was greeted by a support person whose responded to my “outage report” with the heart warming and comforting word “yes”. Or it may actually have been more like “aha”. No apologies. No information on what was going on other that ”there is an issue in your area”.
It is not my intend to trash the lady I was talking to. She did not break the system and she did not know what was going on. It is Shaw I am trashing for not letting their employees and customers know what was going on. Is it that hard to put a note on your website stating that a specific area is currently experiencing issues and being serviced, or have some sort of message at the beginning of the support line’s automated system? Good communication can be easy and goes a long way with positive experience with a brand.
Again, with the weather circumstances, and just in general, I fully understand things break. But how you deal with and communicate about this outage as a service provider is how customers experience it. Big fail for Shaw in this case. I just hope it is due to their inexperience with outages.
Welcome to the Kogel Design blog. As you can clearly see this blog is currently still in the construction stage, but will be available with lots of interesting content in 2012. Please check back with me in 2012, and follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/kogeldesign