Please care for the logo as well.

These days I’m faced with a very specific problem. Is is specific to the designs of Dot Com sites for various clients. Assume that every single client who wants to design her website has an expectation of communicating as clearly as possible through her website. This communication can be achieved by bringing better architecture to the website content which suits the users and off course by careful alignment of different attention zones in the entire website. What a clients also expects is to have a wonderful nice looking stunning design to their website content. This is a common process which involves looking at goals, content, information architecture to designing templates at the end. No issues at all, perfect!

Where I find people getting stuck is the point when they have their identities which suits a different media more than the web. For example a bunch of organizations have logos in the orientation of a portrait. Conventionally such a logo suits print media and not the web. You can have a really good portrait oriented logo on a letter head. Not because it looks good on letter head just like that but more because it goes with the length of the paper. The paper bearing its imprint is itself oriented as a portrait. Now come to the web which is essentially more horizontal-landscape a medium than print. Not only a logo with portrait orientation looks out of place, it also compromises on the header space. One needs a wider header to accommodate a log in a portrait format. Eventually it happens at the expense of priorities of other stuff on the website which can be shown without a scroll (above the fold). Well hopefully they will come to understand that logo designs with landscape orientation will suit better the web media. But currently they suspect me as the one convincing them to modify their identities to a landscape format. What to do !

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I love this idea of seeing numbers over a timeline. Extremely engaging and interesting work.

ICTs for Development

I’ve entered the ITU data on mobile phone penetration for all countries from 1998-2008 into a Google Docs spreadsheet, and then added the Motion Chart visualiser (the same engine made famous by Hans Rosling and TED, though they use the Gapminder Trendalyzer version).

Unfortunately, WordPress scripting rules mean I can’t post the active chart here. To access the spreadsheet data and Google Motion chart, you need to go to:

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tUzZsw5SoG_jXRDl6p8tRCg&single=true&gid=0&output=html

Screenshots below give an indicator of how you can visualise the data. The chart offers three main means to visualise (bubble, bar chart, and line graph) via tabs at the top right. You can change the axes and element colouring/size, and highlight individual countries. For bubble and bar, the main point of the chart is that you can click play (bottom left) and show how things change over time. (Note playback speed variation control, and also the ability to drag…

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So what is it that I did yesterday?

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Yeah.. I mean you would ask such as question, as the one above in the title of the post, to yourself when you probably had worked really just a day before and today you happen to be comparatively a little eased. So in retrospection I am posing this question to myself, “So what is it that I did yesterday?”.  Apparently the answer to this question is relatively simpler than I imagined. It is either one activity or the other… something with a well define goal to be completed in a shorter time. However what is interesting me more now, as I look back, are a bunch of new things which I discovered. I was involved with an UI assignment where I was struggling to produce quick prototypes. For those who are not familiar with the domain, UI is an acronym for User Interface. The assignment demands me to create sufficiently detailed prototypes which I can use to illustrate the workflows and individual screens. Fighting against the time I tried couple of things, right from Photoshop to Illustrator, Balsamiq, Pidoco and so many of these. Every link got me to a new product page where I am shown a tutorial video telling me how to use the specific tool. Come on.. I have no time to view tutorials, give me something easy to understand and operate. At least for god’s sake please don’t ask me to Sign Up to try. Soon I realized that perhaps I’m asking for too much or I’m knocking at the wrong door. I could also be blamed as a hurried user who wants things at his finger tips. Whatever, my reality stays with me at the end. I just could not use these tools.

Anyways lets come to the interesting bit. At the time when I started putting off with this show I came across, almost accidentally, a webpage. It showed me simple tools to help one creating paper prototypes. Let me insert that link here. It is simply amazing. What they provide is a set of layouts as PDF files which you can print. These include different graph layouts like equally spaced dots, grids, storyboard etc. These layouts are flexible enough and one can feel at home while creating paper prototypes. The layout which I used is a dot graph. I printed several copies of dot graph on A4 papers. Paper prototyping was so quick with these dotted graph papers. I think I discovered something simple, yet highly effective yesterday. BTW, if you notice the image that I have used at the beginning of this post is one of my paper prototypes 🙂

Here is something else for designers.

Happy Birth Day Gustav !

There are always few who deserves a mention more than by just Google in this digital age. We often call them one’s favorite or inspiration or a better adjective always. Today it is Gustav Klimt’s birth day. No wonder Google has one of his paintings on its search engine. When it comes to Gustav I am not so fortunate. I came to know about Gustav and his excellence as an artist quite recently. It is somewhere in Jan 2008 when I was wandering in a book store and had put my hand on one of the table top books with paintings of different artists. I went through the book, turning it page-by-page glancing through all different paintings, giving almost equal time to every painting. This continued till I came to a page where I saw this beautiful nude women, well painted with bright colors, though quite an unusual combination of colors with golden shades here-n-there. I had to halt. I had to stop. It was Gustav Klimt. It was him. That’s was my first meeting with dear Gustav.

Gustav seems to be a musician and a painter at the same time. He seems to infuse his work with a strong sense of performance. A performance of the kind which is lucid, breath taking and yet carried out with patience. The layers of robes of Gustav’s women unfold before you almost with an elegance and charm of the superior kind. Gold showers as it would have showered in the heaven. His themes seem to be divine and mortal at the same time. It is in his paintings that these two extreme ends of divinity and mortality meets. Gustav’s “Zeus came to Danae in a shower of gold”, is an marvelous work where he does the same. I can’t attest any further how much I like this painting. I don’t know Gustav much but he is the one who welcomes me to know him more. Happy Birth Day Gustav!

Image Credits: For Gustav’s Profile Pic and for his painting Danae.

ReelChanges.org, a brief account of my experience and learnings

Reelchanges.org does a lot more than merely using internet as a means of delivering information to the users. The site is originated out of the idea of supporting independent filmmakers around the globe by empowering them with means to communicate about their media proposals, to find audience, patrons and media distributors.

The team included a bunch of documentary filmmakers, journalists and technology experts. It was at this stage, quite the time when everyone was brainstorming that I joined this team as a UX consultant. Initial responsibilities included defining the design brief, gathering background information about various aspects of non- profit media production – distribution and informing the team about related design possibilities.

In parallel, started the phase of identifying different user personas with their individual needs. A set of workflows and scenarios were sketched pertaining to each user category. Somewhere I also got started with the task of breaking up and then structuring the information to come up with the system architecture.

Initial set of paper sketches as wireframes and system diagrams proved to be a handy communication tool within the team. We did run a couple of iteration cycles using these. Besides carrying the advantage of a faster turnaround time, these paper prototypes proved valuable for the team whenever it came to convey thoughts to the team members with different backgrounds, especially when most of us were accustomed to relying on text based communication. These wireframes soon became the basis for generating visual designs (high fidelity UI mock-ups) for this project. We also had points of difference around issues like usage of colors and visual language but the process followed helped us to embrace and appreciate good elements from different points of views. Moving ahead, these images were delivered for front end HTML implementation cycles which made me taste its own set of constraints 🙂

In Aug 2008, the team released the alpha version of ReelChanges.org. Since then it is kept on a content aggregation mode before we could embark on a new cycle of design enhancements. This is also a period when we are testing this idea with a live segment of users, patrons, documentary filmmakers and commercial content distributors.

Credits: Hal Plotkin, Texity Systems

Related resources: Click here to view a set of process sketches of this project.