Posts tagged 'Web'

Mutable Maps for Many Apps

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Rivers of Southeast Asia

Rivers of Southeast Asia

Maps present us limitless layers of different data–physical, cultural or ecological. In addition to aiding us with the everyday tasks such as getting ourselves from one place to another, maps help us understand our relationship to the physical earth as well as other humans, and our connection to a dizzying array of physical, cultural, political systems and networks. So it comes as no surprise that at some point in every designer’s career, one project or another relies heavily on maps.

Maps are so ubiquitous that we sometimes ignore the craft involved in clearly presenting this enormous quantity of information. To succeed, maps must clearly describe the data they are presenting, fit it into a surrounding design language, and be readable at a variety of different scales, sizes and presentation modes.

How is a designer to tackle these challenges? What follows is a rundown of a few tools that can make the task of designing, deploying or just visualizing a map a little bit easier.
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Three Ways Anyone Can Make a Smart Phone App

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

A referee signal quiz app made with AppInventor

Designers are tinkerers. We like to be able to nudge, tuck, trim and finally throw away our creations and start from scratch. But what about designing for the explosively-growing field of mobile apps?

Increasingly, free tools are becoming available that allow designers to prototype and test rich applications for mobile devices without developing fully-realized apps. In this post I give an overview of an example for each of the three major platforms.


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Code-free iPhone interaction prototype

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

TouchOSC screenshotHave you ever found yourself wanting to prototype a simple, realtime interaction between an iPhone and another piece of hardware, but don’t have time to learn iPhone programming? TouchOSC provides a simple solution to this challenge. An iPhone app that communicates over wifi using Open Sound Control, TouchOSC allows you to control any kind of application that accepts OSC messages.

TouchOSC also includes a companion layout editor. This free desktop application allows you to define custom screen layouts of UI elements and then upload them to your iPhone. Unfortunately there are only a limited number of UI widgets, and because the software was designed to control realtime sound apps, they naturally tend toward realtime control- knobs, faders and toggles as opposed to forms, dropdowns and checkboxes of more rich interfaces. Still, if all you need is a few buttons and a slider to control an interactive system and you aren’t able to develop a native iPhone app, TouchOSC offers some enticing potential. See below the jump for some examples of unexpected uses.
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Why Wiggly Wireframes?

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Sketchy WireframeAaron Travis explores the motivation and payoff for developing low-fidelity wireframes for user interfaces during the design process. While I have my own reasons for loving all things lo-fi, this (web-specific) article really nails it. Their rationales are clearly thought out and expressed in a way that make them relevant to a wide variety of disciplines.

Read More for excerpts
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Using Comics to Describe User Experience

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

An excellent article appears today on Boxes and Arrows. It gives an overview of the benefits of using a narrative technique to communicate complex interactions. In this case study, User Experience Designers developed comic strips to communicate broad goals to a larger and diverse audience.

Comics are effective not only because they are essentially narrative, but also because they are unpretentious, easy to follow, and accessible. Whereas a functional specification document uses words and often “tech speak” to communicate functionality, comics use pictures and interactions to get ideas across.

Can’t draw? Don’t have time to draw? Check out the comments at the bottom of the article for a link to, where the folks at Sun Microsystems’ web team have built a repository of free stock scenes and characters that you can use to build storyboards with little effort. The ‘examples’ section, which has tips for how to use narrative techniques to describe design choices, reads like an introduction to Aristotle’s Poetics:

Another common format is a three-act play: (1) A hero… (2) has a problem… (3) and solves it (or not)

The act of designing a user experience can be compared to developing choreography for a user to enact. Writing like this in sometimes-dry forums like Boxes and Arrows validates my belief that telling a story is a valuable way to describe interaction to a broad audience.

SEE ALSO – ComicLife : A Story Machine

Google Buys @Last Sotftware

Tuesday, March 14th, 2006

Google has announced the purchase of @Last Software, makers of SketchUp, a 3D modelling and rendering application. SketchUp, whose tagline is ’3D for everyone,’ is designed to be an intuitive tool for creating 3D mockups and sketches.

The shape of things to come
@Last Software had created a plugin for Google Earth that allows SketchUp users to add their own models to a Google Earth application. Like the models shown above, this means that anyone could place their 3D design into the Google Earth application and users who subscribed to that ‘layer’ of data could see your building on their desktop.

This could be for architects and designers what Google’s purchase of Blogger was to writers. Google continues to expand the average person’s ability to create and share content. Of course, it could also mean endless 3D blogging of peoples’ doghouses, office buildings and summer homes, but some good may come of it regardless.

@Last Software

Link to Post

Update: This guy has a catalogue of notable real, imagined or proposed buildings that have been modelled and placed in Google Earth. A good indication of things to come.