Another NYC Taxi review…

Old Taxi Design Clear

New Taxi Design Clear

Ask a designer about their opinion on just about anything and they’ll have a response. Ask a simple aesthetic question to a civilian about whether they like something or not, you’ll no doubt get an answer. The thing is though, almost everyone forgets after the design has been executed that there was an original brief, usually a process of give and take with the client, and then there’s also the x factor that all influence the outcome. Everyone has an opinion on the new taxis in NYC, but there’s a lot of elements and questions that kind of make it an interesting exercise to talk about. I’m actually surprised it’s taken a couple weeks for the opinions of the NYC Taxi to take off. I don’t think the talk really got off the ground until the NYT blog post http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/tag/nyc-taxi-logo/ There’s even a template to design your own taxi logo.

One of the first questions is does there even need to be a Taxi logo? UPS is brown, a taxi is yellow – why not leave it at that? This is just a guess, but I’m assuming the Taxi logo will also be used on websites, paper documentation and other peripheral materials. Having a stripe of yellow isn’t probably going to work. So even if everyone recognizes the yellowness of the taxi there still needs to be an identifying mark. I don’t know the history of the the elements “NYC” and Taxi are. The “NYC” part of the mark started making an appearance earlier this year on banners like this.

Taxi Type

Taxi Half Full

Taxi Half Empty

The one thing that really stood out to me about the NYC part of the logo was how my eye identifies the shape from the bottom up, not the other way around. A simple type exercise is that if you cut the bottom half of a word horizontally, typically there’s enough strokes from the word to be able to read it. You read from top to bottom. But as I mention for whatever reason, whenever a taxi has passed me by, I’m reading from bottom to top.

Old Fare

New Fare

I can honestly say that I’ve never read the Taxi fare chart. The old one is fairly confusing while the new one is much easier to understand – but is it even necessary to have on the door? Once the door is closed and the taxi takes off, it’s going to cost what it’s going to cost. The chart on the door isn’t going to make me decide to take a Taxi or not. If I could use that space for information I would suggest placing tips on how to talk to a taxi driver about directions – know your street, then mention the cross avenues… And if the taxi driver starts talking, he’s probably not talking to you but someone on a cell phone. That info would make things a lot easier for everyone including the driver and tourists alike.

Old Taxi Design at Speed

New Taxi Design at Speed

Another exercise is to notice how the old and new side of a Taxi looks as it’s speeding down the street. Which one is easier to identify (pretend for a moment that you don’t notice that it’s a yellow vehicle)? In this context the new logo works really well, even blurred you know that it’s a NYC Taxi.

Old Taxi Sign

But the one element of the Taxi that I wished had been redesigned was the sign on the top of the vehicle. You tell a tourist that if the light’s on, that means that they’re available. That is of course true except when it’s off duty, but the lights are still on and I’m sure there’s a bit of confusion. Why bother mentioning off duty, if the taxi isn’t available – just keep the light off. Or devise a better system. Take away the numbers – perhaps just colours: green for available, red for no, or why not a yes/no system. The sign says yes when they can pick up passengers, no if not.

Interview of Catalogtree by Serial Consign

catalogtree image

Serial Consign has a good interview with Catalogtree, that dutch firm that does amazing information design – below is an excerpt of the interview at http://serialconsign.com/node/141

In examining your portfolio I notice your very distinct style of not only graphic design, but information visualization. Broadly speaking, what is your philosophy for graphically communicating data?

Our approach to design – not just in designing info-graphics – is to devise a set of rules by which the content should ‘behave’. A design is a visual outcome generated by these rules. We feel this way of working might be an answer to the flow of dynamic content in newer media and might give a fresh look on the processing of content in older media.

Data sets – large once especially – are perfect for this approach: The content shapes itself into an intriguing picture.

Panasonic Support

Panasonic Support

Panasonic Support went live today/yesterday. It’s been my existence for quite a while on the design side at Renegade. I’m happy that it’s functioning – but my question to you is this. If you needed to find warranty information for the Lumix Digital Camera DMC-FX9K, how would you do it, and were you able to find it in a decent amount of time?

Information Designed Photography

hurdles finish

Information design and photography are two things that pique my interest. If I can see both together even better. It’s a great challenge to make information understandable and the more examples I can find helps me learn. I found the above image above form the post titled Photo Finishes: Information Rich. There’s no photoshop tricks with the runners though there’s something slightly unique about the time lapsed photo finish above. It’s a sterile image yet is packed with raw emotion that I find fitting.

A relevant design and research site

serial consign

I came across a new favourite site today, and ironicly I found it through a comment here on my blog. Serial Consign is a design and research site written by Greg J. Smith. Aside from relevant topics to me like social networking and how information is distributed today, the tone is intelligent and understandable. One of the ways I measure interest in something is how fast time flies and not realizing how much time has gone by. I gained a couple hours tonight reading the site.

Another interesting thing to note is how the site is programmed. It’s powered by Drupal which makes me wonder about WordPress. Yes, WordPress is what I’m using here at DesignNotes, but I’m starting to find that the system for pages, posts and sidebars to be limiting in how I will evolve DesignNotes.

Food map of New York Subway

Taste of New York Subway

The idea of Taste of New York Subway works on a number of levels though at this point I’m not sure if I would use it as a reference. I really like how the nodes and the subways lines look visually, but the map overall seems small. I would luv to hang that image on my wall as a visual but as a functioning navigation it’s a little awkward. A filtering system that would allow me to just pick one line would help simplify things too. But lets pretend I just want to explore with no real idea of where I would end up. I just pick a random node and click to find a restaurant I would never had found otherwise. A secondary problem arises. There’s a really narrow frame that provides all the info. Even if this info a been launched on a new pop up screen, it would make things so much easier to read. Its a shame that it isn’t easier to read b/c there’s so much good information hiding in the site. I can’t imagine how much time has already been put into finding all the information.

Following the contact information for Taste of New York Subway brings me to the site Idle Words. Again here’s a site that has tons of reading hours worth of information. The latest post is about their Million Marker Map – a google maps api.

Two new’ish websites for designers

design:related

It’s starting to get difficult to keep track of all the websites that I should be going to on a regular basis. Keeping that in mind, between updating sites that I want to like my blog, flickr, delicious and sometimes facebook, it seems like a new site that comes into play is going to take some constant little nudges to get me interested in. There’s two new targeted web sites to designers called design:related and Design Float that I’ve been looking at for a month or two. I’m not at the point where I would visit them everyday yet, but I’m starting to lean that way…

Like a lot of social networking sites, they live off of members inviting other members. That’s not always the case but when I look at how I joined facebook or design:related it was both from invites from other friends. It’s a bit of a trust thing, but also if someone else is experimenting with it maybe I should too. I think design:related has a lot of potential. The interface is extremely well though out and I can find out information quite quickly. There’s one biggie that I’m still on the fence about, and that is their stat measurement. It shows the number of views publicly of different sections that members have visited. I’m not sure if that’s entirely a good thing or not. For sites like Digg it’s a good idea to show the number of votes (and like Design Float too, but I’ll get into that in a moment). The site is still in Beta format and I expect that as more members join, a pretty tight community will build around the inspirations section. The job board looks promising too. Like I mentioned above, I think the interface is pretty clear which will be important as it becomes larger with members.


Design Float

Design Float is kind of like Digg, but for designers. I’ve never been a huge fan of Digg for a number of reasons. The popular stuff tends to always feel the same and if it’s so popular why would I bother talking about it – there’s already enough people looking at the said item. At this point I’m not feeling the same way with Design Float. I really like how they’ve broken the categories up, no easy feat when describing design things.

Social Activism as Design through Typography

Understanding Graphic Design as Social Activism

When I started eagerly reading the Sunday NYT Magazine article the Road to Clarity I thought it was going to deliver a compelling mention of the process that design can be used to help create a better environment. And for the most part it does help explain what legibility in typography can do to help people read things from far distances. It also describes the passion that designers are willing to go through to see their ideas turned into reality. In this case it’s about changing the typeface that is used on American Roadsigns. Imagine dealing with a government bureaucracy to change a typeface so people will get two more seconds to read a sign as they drive by.

For my main thesis project in my undergrad program (many years ago) for my Bachelor of Design I worked on a similar road sign project that looked into how design could make road signs more understandable. I’m not going to disagree that legibility at night is an important factor to understanding signs, and yes I tried some of the similar blurring techniques of typefaces that the article talks about. And even modified a couple sans serifs to increase the ability to see the typeface when you are under difficult viewing conditions. But I think the whole article ignores something more pragmatic when driving. Depending on the placement and how many signs are stuck beside each other, if you’re on a freeway that has six or seven lanes it’s difficult to decipher which sign represents to the corresponding lanes. In that respect the article ignores the layout of information that I think would help in making quick driving decisions. How the information is organized is as much of an issue as how it reads and that seems to be missing from the article.

Maps 2.0

NYC that I know, sort of...

Ever since google opened their map api, there’s been a great movement that would have been inconceivable only a couple years ago. Between customizing, collecting, tracking and sharing of information over what essentially could be considered an atlas, new forms of information has been created. Over at Mashable Networking News, they’ve assembled a lot of different types of mapping sites that they consider to be Online Maps: 50+ Tools and Resources. A further breakdown of categories is as follows: Customizable and Collaborative Maps, Transit Mapping, Subject Specific Mapping, and Popular Mapping Services.

Nice interactive map: Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0

iA_WebTrends_2007_2_1600x1024

Via Architectradure I came across a really cool interactive Web Trend Map 2007 Version 2.0 post. Here’s their description of the map: “The 200 most successful websites on the web, ordered by category, proximity, success, popularity and perspective.”. Along with the great post explaining the map and context they’ve given a number of options to download the map and created a clickable online version.

Bugaboo Daytrips – nice site of the say

Bugaboo Daytrips

Via infosthetics I found Bugaboo Daytrips – a site for friendly places to stroll your baby. Me not knowing anything about the baby explosion that has happened over the last couple years and the industries it has created, this tie in between product and culture is cool. This site with all the different maps makes the case that sometimes inconsistent execution of an element can work really well.

Thinking about Google Analytics

Google Analytics

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been actively playing with the revised Google Analytics. In the past I’ve never been a huge fan of GA due to the lack of it’s real time data. There’s also a couple other reasons why it’s not my number one choice, but I’ll go into that later. The free tracker that I do go to more often is Stat Counter. On the negative side the Stat Counter interface is pretty bad but there’s one feature that I think is pretty important though not exactly click efficient. I can look at the isp address of the person looking at my site and find out how they got there. I’m able to see if they got to my site through another link, from a search engine or whether they came to DesignNotes directly. GA will show a referral and the isp of the viewer at the same time – but they’re not connected. I can’t click on the referral information and see the isp or vice versa. Having the connection helps me understand the who and the how of the viewer much easier.

Getting back to GA, here’s a couple quick notes of what stood out for me in the design update.

1. Timeline: There’s a couple ways to define the dates of the stats, either through a calendar or this visual timeline. What’s nice about this feature is that it gives you a quick visual reverence to the date. It can be long or as short as you want.

2. More Graphs: The graphs are small, but surprising clear in terms if line weight. Considering how little space these six sections take up, I can a general outlook quickly.

3. & 4. Map Overlays: The one step backward of the design update is the new Map Overlay (3.). In the old map (4.), it showed individual dots first as opposed to general continent information that is highlighted in colour. While the dots were not entirely helpful in telling the number of visitors, it did give a quick indication of where people were coming from.

5. The new and old Dashboards: Overall a whole post could go into the site architecture of the new and old dashboard, but since both are still confusing to me I won’t dig that deep. What I will mention is that the new one is less daunting and friendly, but still I think there’s some work to be done. Possibly keeping the viewer settings like the old one, but also add a number level from beginner to expert. The icons are a nice break up of steady text.

Since the design update I really haven’t changed a lot of my natural stat behaviour yet with Google Analytics, but it has more to do with the function then taking a look at the newer visual information that isn’t quite connected for a regular blogger like myself.

Breaks and maps

NYC that I know, sort of...

As of Friday I’ll be taking a short break from DesignNotes for about a week. I’m headed to a beach to recharge. Sadly Maddie isn’t coming with us, she would rather stay in NYC then head to the Dominican Republic. Happily she’s getting a room mate from Vancouver to be friends with while we’re gone. Not wanting to leave Christina hanging with nothing to do aside from chilling with a weimaraner, I’ve made a google map that has a bunch of places that I like in NYC. It’s a pretty cool function that I’ll be updating on a regular basis. You can view the map HERE.

Mark Coleran Visual Designer

I don’t mention a lot of designer’s portfolios b/c there are a lot of them out there, and I hate the idea of a superstar designer. But every once in a while there are exceptions , and I think Mark Coleran’s stuff should be checked out. Aside from me not liking the idea of the “superstar designer”, I often laugh at the poor attempts of info design that are in movies or tv. But once again if you look at his reel, there is a wonderful collection of work. It might be easy to be swayed w/ the fast cuts and music, but even if you slow down his reel and turn the sound off it still works perfectly. If there’s one pause of thought, I wonder if the average person that could commission Mark may not b/c the perception is he’s unaffordable after seeing the website.

original link via Motiongrapher

There’s “like” numbers everywhere

Image via diagram.com

Numbers everywhere

I’ve never been a huge basketball fan, I can’t even name a single college basketball player. About a month and a half ago I got so tired of seeing basketball on every channel I bought the NHL’s center ice package so I could watch hockey whenever I wanted. Until a couple days ago I thought a bracket was for punctuation. But since moving from Canada I’ve been involved in fantasy football and now I’m keeping track of every college basketball game for the National Championships.

sawmadness

The bracket as I’ve come to know it as, is something pretty addicting. You’re playing god. You get to decide who’s going all the way, and who will be eliminated. I have no emotional ties to any team so I don’t have to worry about getting distracted. In terms of odds you can read a lot about each team or nothing at all and have a pretty good chance. If you know anything about this tournament and brackets, you probably know all about CBS’s Bracket Manager. Me, as having no prior experience with the bracket manager is finding the whole data measurement thing pretty cool. It was easy to click on the teams I wanted. Of course before the tournament if you’re in an office competition (like me w/ Renegade) you can see who’s part of the pool but you can’t see their picks until the start of the tournament. But as soon as that first game starts you can check out who everyone else has picked. What I found so fascinating is one of the people I work a lot w/ has the same teams in the finals as me and we’ve never discussed it before. Weird.

my bracket

Everyone has a formula for picking teams, and here’s mine. What’s ironic is that another person I work with had a similar crazy method and he claims to be quite the expert. For me if I know a couple people that do have ties to schools I’ll throw them into the mix automatically. There’s a couple Duke people and one person from both Florida and Georgetown – so that seemed like a good place to start. I then picked a couple no brainer top picks. But after that I went for the upsets. I looked for the lower ranked teams that made a pretty good run in their last ten games and compared them with those that were higher ranked but didn’t do so well near the end of the college regular season. So far today I’m doing ok, but not great. However most of the big choices still have a chance.

This is where the bracket manager in an office works really well. You can keep tabs on how everyone else is doing and try to get an understanding of their method of madness. So I guess I’ll have to write a follow up post in early April to state the obviousness of my intuition or talk about the bad luck that I had…

and btw, the first image of this post came from http://thediagram.com/

the FreshDirect Beef Guide

Ever since I sold my bbq before moving I haven’t exactly been excited about buying beef. Sure I’ll order it at a restaurant, but I don’t tend to bring it home to grill. I only bring this up b/c I wish I had known about the FreshDirect Beef Guide from FreshDirect so I knew exactly what I was buying. It’s a great interactive tool that guides you through the different types of cut, and what you can expect in tenderness and flavour. It’s not exactly easy to find so I’m happy Lillian who I work with told me about it. It’s at the bottom of the beef section that’s inside meat, however you could also just go click www.freshdirect.com//media/animation/beef_guide/beef_guide.html

The Person behind Nooka: an interview with Matthew Waldman

nooka

The story behind this interview with Matthew Waldman, the person behind the timepiece company Nooka is interesting as he was quick to get back to me with my questions. Just before Christmas I talked about Nooka’s watches on a blog post. Tina, though some of you may know her as Swissmiss mentioned that she knew him, and that he was quite a help when she started to design in New York. She also mentioned that she would be happy to introduce me to him.

There was only one thing that I wanted for Christmas and my wife Tamara was cool enough to get me a ZenH. It’s one of those watches that makes you just rethink a lot of things. Stuff just looks different when you change your mindset. Then I noticed Matthew’s name while I was checking out the roster for Pecha Kucha New York last week. I figured that was the perfect time to do an interview with him, so I asked Tina for the virtual handshake. Very quickly I put down the questions that had me interested in the watch as I was wearing it. Matthew responded incredibly quickly and I’m very grateful for that. Enjoy

Michael Surtees: What made you want to design watches?

Matthew Waldman: I actually never set out to design watches. Nooka is just one result of an internal and ongoing dialog I have about the nature of intuitive design combined with my questioning of accepted norms. Here is a rough outline on how it happened in my brain:

Inline skates become popular in the early 1990s causing me to have a “why can’t I rethink a product like that?” moment…

I fell into web design as a profession after creating web pages on my own as a hobby. I founded an interactive design studio in 1997 where I was part of the birth of information architecture as a discipline. This got me obsessing over intuitive design [over aesthetics]. (There was a similar movement in product design 15 years earlier when people were obsessing over ergonomic design)…

Unrelated, my intellectual brain was re-ignited after reading a chapter on Riemannian Geometry in Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace in the mid 90’s. Kaku used geometry as an example on how people do not question enough especially in his field of physics. His argument was something like this: Everyone thinks of Euclidian geometry as the geometry of the real world, but Euclidian geometry does not work on curved surfaces. There are curved surfaces everywhere in our world. Riemann, a 19th century German mathematician solved this problem but no one is taught Riemannian geometry in High School…

Waiting for a client in a London Hotel [The Landmark in Marylebone] staring at a wall clock gave me a flashback to learning how to tell time in first grade. I remembered learning it as part of math class and we had little exercises to do to learn time telling. This led to another flash back to fifth grade when digital watches and clocks became popular and we were taught how to read a digital display. Adults don’t think about it much, but time is calculated in base 12 [or base 24] when almost everything else we calculate is base 10.

These concepts are difficult for some children and must be taught. If something must be taught, then it is not intuitive…which brought all the background processes above together and I questioned why there were only 2 ways to represent time.

I sketched some ideas on a napkin, went back to New York and showed them to my IP Lawyer who thought they could get design patent protection. There were some other steps, and then a watch!

MS: How long does it usually take to design a watch – how do you know when it’s complete?

MW: The design takes little time to conceptualize. I then work out the proportions and function sets on the computer. We then do the 3-D models and spec which is sent to the factory for prototyping. If the movement is standard or something we’ve already produced, the whole process will take between 3-6 months. If a new circuit/movement is necessary, it can take 6 months to a year from concept to product.

MS: Once you have the idea, what steps does it take in production to get made?

MW: see question 2.

MS: I have the Nooka ZenH. I knew I wanted a Nooka but it took me a while to decide on the one. Ultimately it came down to the fact that it didn’t have any numbers on it and it read from left to right. Could you talk about how this watch came to be? If you could design that one again, is there anything that you would change?

MW: The Zen-H is my personal favorite and was designed expressly with the goal of producing a timepiece that would be easy to understand without numbers. I am actually redesigning the Zen line for a 2008 release when you will see the answer to the 2nd part of your question.

MS: What watch are you wearing right now?

MW: A blue Zub Zen-V.
zub20zen_b300240.jpg

MS: Where would you like Nooka as a company go? Why did you start it and what are your goals for it?

MW: I started Nooka to capitalize on the good press I was receiving when Seiko had licensed my designs but then dropped all of their sub-brands. I was encouraged by retailers who had carried the Seiko versions and wanted to work with me.

As a new brand and company, I want Nooka to expand into more markets so we can achieve the momentum and resources necessary to develop more products and sponsor cultural/educational activities that reflect my philosophy. I would like to see Nooka become a fashion brand and product think-tank with an inventory of concepts to license to other companies and collaborators.

MS: Are there any other products that you would like to design?

MW: Yes! Watercoolers and shoes.

MS: What keeps you inspired?

MW: Biology. Evolutionary biology is one of my other obsessions, and unlike the cliché of “i find natural forms to be very inspiring”, I am inspired by the processes and events that shape organisms and biological relationships.

MS: Do you read any blogs, and if so which are some of your favs?

MW: I read yours. I also read a lot of music blogs. I had a blog for my art project, the fairy labor union, but can’t remember where I had it hosted. If anyone can find it, please let me know.

MS: In your bio it mentions that you teach. Why do you teach and was there one teacher that influenced you more than any other?

MW: Teaching is great for so many things. First, it keeps me articulate about my process and what I do as a profession. Second, it gets me out of my apartment and office. Third, I get a jump-start on finding talented interns and potential designers for my studio. And of course, the students benefit from being taught by a working professional with a focus on creative process.

I was very lucky to have very colorful New York City public School teachers throughout grade school and High School. One teacher that inspired me a lot was Mr. Gupter, my High School architecture professor. I was a typical depressed art/angst teenager [they call them Goths now right?], and spend one whole senior semester writing poetry in his studio where I should’ve been working on his projects. When it came for him to collect finals, he asked me to hand in the notebook I was writing in. At first I thought he was trying to embarrass me, but he said very directly “You’ve been writing in that book all semester and I have to grade you on what you did in my class” He gave me an “A” and told me that all good design is about inspiration and composition. He thought my poems were inspired and well composed. He thought that the ability to write poetry would serve me well as a designer.

This experience helped me see how interdisciplinary all the arts are – something that I hope is apparent in everything I do.

MS: As a native New Yorker, what’s the one thing that you can do over and over again and always enjoy yourself?

MW: Look at people on the subway, ride my bicycle up the Hudson River Park and in Central Park.

MS: Thank you so much, it was fascinating to hear how Nooka came to be and I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you come up next with Nooka.

Updated Links

diagram

I’ve just updated my “other sites” section with the below links: Advertising/Design Goodness, black . white . bliss, the Charlie Rose Show, Diagram, Dumbo NYC, Experience Manifesto, frogblog, The News is NowPublic.com and State of the Art

Advertising/Design Goodness www.frederiksamuel.com/blog/
Frederik Samuel’s blog that show a lot of advertising and design visuals

black . white . bliss blackwhitebliss.blogspot.com/
Trisha’s about statement on her blog is pretty accurate I think: obsession with all things black and white. Most of the blog consists of those type of images

The Charlie Rose Show www.charlierose.com/
it’s the man and his interviews – there’s a redesign of the site coming soon

Diagram http://thediagram.com/
I sort of forgot about this site for a while, but I’m happy I rediscovered it lately. Essentially it’s about diagrams, but presented in a passionate way

Dumbo NYC http://dumbonyc.com/
I really enjoyed visiting Dumbo a number of months ago, and with Hideyoshi’s blog – I can keep up to date about the neighbourhood

Experience Manifesto http://blog.brandexperiencelab.org/
David Polinchock’s blog that relates to the brand experience lab

frog design™ / frogblog www.frogdesign.com/frogblog/
I’ve been a fan of frog’s idea of what design is, so their blog just continues on moving the conversation forward

The News is NowPublic.com http://nowpublic.com/
an updated news site that seems to find things I might have otherwise have missed

State of the Art http://stateoftheart.popphoto.com/
yes, it’s the group blog from the editors of American Photo magazine

Nigel Holmes on Information Design

Nigel Holmes on Information Design

I picked up the book Nigel Holmes on Information Design by Steven Heller last night and was immediately drawn to the image Nigel created above. I haven’t finished the book yet, so I can’t give a full review. But from what I’ve read so far it’s worth every dollar of the twenty that I spent. I wouldn’t consider myself a total expect on information design, but I can talk Otto Neurath with the best of them. Within the first couple chapters of the discussion between Nigel and Steve, Nigel throws out a lot of names to be researched that I had never heard of before. I’m doing a lot of work with icons and other visuals to diagram information and frankly google and del.icio.us have helped some, but not all. This book looks like something that I’ve been missing for a while.

If there was only one suggestion from me, it would have been to show more visuals within the book. Or if there wasn’t the budget, have a secondary web site that could show images of what was being discussed.

Creating a system for your design goals

goal tracker by David Seah

New year means new goals, or the chance to renew the energy to keep going on something big that you’re looking to achieve. Last year I set up a couple short and long term goals and divided my year into four quarters which kept me on track. I was able to accomplish most of what I set out to do which gave me a great sense of accomplishment. However during the break over this Christmas I was kind of stuck on those big goals for 2007. I didn’t want to settle now that I’m here working in New York. It’s time to build on what I started. One thing that kept coming up was the desire to be a better designer, but that’s not really a concrete goal. So my attention was piqued when I read David Seah’s blog today about his process for Creating New Year’s Resolutions with the Concrete Goals Tracker. “I could have a goal like, “be a better graphic designer”, and just “try harder”. That’s all fine and dandy, but I want to get a more quantitative sense of what’s going on. That’s where the Concrete Goal Tracker comes in.” David breaks down his points system and offers a pdf template that justifies his system. It’s very logical and has helped me refocus my energy. I’m probably going to adjust things and create my own document in InDesign so I can keep it digital, but without David’s breakdown I would never have been able to get to this point.

emergent tracker by David Seah

On a secondary note, he’s also created a flash application to track your design work time at The Printable CEO™ Online Emergent Task Timer. There you’ll be able to use it online or download it as a stand alone. The only catch is that you have to print the screen at the end of the day to keep track of it – you can’t save it digitally.

This kind of stuff really raises the bar in terms of self promotional tools that helps other designers. Merci David…

Telling time visually

watch

After talking about my new Nooka watch a couple posts ago, I wondered out loud about other forms to tell time. After doing a little searching I came across Tokyoflash: Watches from Japan. While some seem to be more functional then others, it’s still worth skimming to see some of the creative ways that you can tell time. Each of the watches comes with a schematic to explain how the time is shown. What should have been slightly obvious to me, but took until know to realize is that time (I think) is universal in that each language divides their time into twenty four hours, minutes and seconds. No matter what language or country you’re in, a normal analog clock will mean the same thing in no matter what language you speak.

Yahoo Top Searches of 2006 Could Be More Helpful

Top Searches of 2006 Interactive

When it comes to the end of the year it seems like everyone has a list for something. Top music, top stories, top whatever – and Yahoo is no different. As of late Yahoo has been taken some negative press as being number two in the search engine race and then there’s the news that MySpace beat Yahoo in page views… Well how they documented their top search results doesn’t exactly finish first in my rank either. When you first start off at http://buzz.yahoo.com you’re introduced to a video clip. I was expecting something more than a person telling me what I’m about the click, it was a complete waste of time pressing play. If you weren’t totally turned off and was still interested in their top search data and chose to click “check it out”, you were thrown into this screen above. The floating balls really didn’t have any relation to their size and there’s a lot of mini balls that don’t do anything. On the right hand column, if you roll over one of the names, the images above scroll sideways. While in theory this should be kind of cool, I think the images are too far above the button that is being clicked and your eye has to move to far to make any meaningful experience. There’s other things that aren’t that great about it, but I’ll let you find them yourself.

Top Searches of 2006

And then there’s the big list. Again the way things are designed it’s not helping refelct the information as much as just showing the lists in contrasting tables. There’s the relation of a top ten, but we don’t know how much more American Idol beat Lost for example. A simple percentage reflected in colour or scale would have been a good start, heck even a graph would have helped. The whole idea feels like it was rushed, especially when compared with the 2006 Year-End Google Zeitgeist.

Measuring Time

NOOKA ZEN-H

I can’t help but rave about my new watch, the NOOKA ZEN-H. The idea of measuring time in a different way is very cool. It’s almost like a new philosophy. Analog watches are good for slight glances to see how much time is left in an hour, but most digital time pieces have forgotten this feature and just spit out numbers. That’s why something like the ZEN-H is so special. The bars create a relation from hours, minutes and seconds in units that have more to do with space and how much has been used and is left. Designed by Matthew Waldman, I’m surprised that there aren’t more watches out there that show time in a new construct.

The US ZIPScribble Map vs. the Travelling Presidential Candidate Map

The US ZIPScribble Map vs. the Travelling Presidential Candidate Map

But is it useful? That’s the question the designer of these maps asks. So what exactly are we looking at here? The first diagram has all the zip codes of the US connected in descending order while the second map shows us the route of the presidential candidates – what I’m unsure if this if from the last election or for all time. It didn’t really say. But back to the original question, data is not useful if it isn’t turned information. So do we have any information? What it does indicate is the attention that states receive, there’s a distinct middle. What it doesn’t show is a relation to time, so maybe the east has more lines etc because the lines started there, and over time it branched out. By looking at this map could I make any actionable items – well it might indicate that there’s more potential growth to the west cause there’s still space, or go to the east b/c it would seem things are established.

Another interesting point to make is that I recently mentioned a tag cloud with US presidents. I’m not positive on this, but I think that both the programmer for the scribble map and the presidential tag cloud were not American. Though not totally relevant, it’s fascinating that people outside the US are finding was to work with all the data the US government puts out there.

Scribble Map via Coudal

Icon Luv

icons from iconwerk

One of the projects that I’m working on has me needing to research icons for future application. Sure, everyone knows about Otto Neurath and Susan Kare. But have you heard of iconwerk? I hadn’t, so it was a pretty cool find for me. What’s nice about their work is that it isn’t web 2.0 realism while at the same time it feels current. Do you know any icon makers that aren’t from a factory?

Nooka Website

Nooka Website

The Nooka Website is as amazing as their watches. I really like the different levels of hierarchy of elements going on with the site. Some elements are more frivolous then other parts, but it really adds something cool to the experience. However the IA could use a bit of work, especially in the where to buy section. It’s incredibly uncool how long it takes to scroll all the way down to to see where in NY that I can buy the watches at.

And since Christmas is so close, I thought I would give Tamara a hint for what I want (Zen H [NHB]). Of course the only failure of the site being all in flash aside from blind people not being able to use it – is that I can’t actually link to the page with the cool watch I want…

http://www.nooka.com/

Info fun from last night

Over at Logic + Emotion, there’s a breakdown of some of the tv info graphics that you may have seen last night. Thankfully I missed the above one.

And if you’re looking for the inside scoop on the info design’s at the New York Times website, click over to Subtraction. This is the culmination of lots of intensive work by the design group, the editorial group and the technology group, and it’s just really cool to see it live. As a great man once said, “I love it when a plan comes together.”

37 Signals also has some graph stuff too…

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