Tag Archives: graphical user interface

Hailpixel’s colour tool

Picking up where I have left, I have a nice addition to my collection of colour tools for visualisation expertshttp://color.hailpixel.com

What you see below is the whole interface, when you open the website by Devin Hunt.


Choosing colours is easy as pie: Move your mouse pointer around and the area changes its colour. Once you like what you see, click, and the colour will be saved to a part in the browser window, together with its hex code. In the remaining area you can continue to create new colours until you’re satisfied with your palette. Colours can also be selectively deleted again and the URL of the page keeps track of your palette and allows for easy sharing (and, if you will, “export” of the colour values).

These are too many words, best enjoy the simplicity of http://color.hailpixel.com yourself! (Also, visit that frontpage and pull on the thread!)

Colour me well-informed

When designing a map or a visualisation, sooner or later there is the point where you have to choose a range of colours (except in very specific circumstances which may require you to produce a black-and-white or greyscale visualisation). What is there to consider in such a situation?


Appropriate use of colours

According to Bertin‘s (1918–2010) seminal work, Semiologie Graphique, colour (defined as hue with constant value) as a visual variable is both selective and associative. These mean, respectively, that an object with slightly differing hue can be selected with ease out of a group of objects and that objects with identical colour but differing values for other visual variables (e.g., in the case of shape as the other variable: a red circle, a red square and a red triangle) can easily be grouped mentally. Continue reading

Potential for improvement: Font legibility in cars

Researchers from MIT AgeLab and a typeface design company have investigated, how font readability of digital menus on a 7 inch display affects glance times of drivers, that is the time the drivers had their eyes on the display rather than on the (simulated!) road. Glance times were measured using an eye-tracking system. The experiment employed the following two fonts:

Font legibility

With 82 participants at various ages it was found that glance time for the lower font in above depiction was reduced by about 10% for men, but not at all for women. (One of the researchers hypothesises that may have to do with how women process information or interact with the technology used in the experiment).

Depending on the speed those 10% may make a significant difference in an actual dangerous traffic scenario. Hopefully, the car manufacturers see enough branding and emotional potential in super-legible fonts.

Related and worth checking out: Some weeks ago infovis experts have discussed speedometer design here and here.

(via Popsci)

Skobbler’s OSM map

Skobbler produces apps and maps based on OpenStreetMap (OSM) data. Under http://maps.skobbler.com they’ve released an OSM-based map. I’ve always had mixed feelings about how OSM presented their map online. While I like the project very much and on and off use OSM data in my projects, I don’t like many things about the visual style both of the map and the website used to present it.

I like the sleek interface of Skobbler’s OSM map, however:


Functionality-wise the Skobbler map offers their own map style as well as some traditional ones (they for example offer the Mapnik and the Cyclemap style), the usual search, routing (I suspect via Google or some other routing service as a standard, because there is a checkbox “switch to OSM”, which makes the functionality less user-friendly), favorite and recently visited places, editing via both JOSM and Potlatch and POI search and easy filtering.

Comparison of Skobbler (top) and Mapnik (bottom) map styles (click to enlarge).

Regarding the map quality I think Skobbler has done many things right and presents a major improvement over the standard OSM map styles: clearer and leaner colour scheme (which orientates itself a bit more towards the ‘industry standard’, I guess), less label clutter, more agreeable line widths (see for example the railway lines or some streets, above), nice choice of font style and capitalisation as well as label placement and repetition (of course, all these things are not completely without flaws).

All in all, a truly attractive OSM map!

(discovered via opengeodata.org)

Geo-Cosmos: Huge globe of OLEDs

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo presents the “world’s first large-scale spherical OLED” and what do you think they display on it? Right!

Cool! As soon as they can do that with bendable OLED panels and thus do away with the gaps in the globe’s surface, I’m sold!

On another note: While I think this is appealing and induces an appropriate “want-to-interact-with-the-globe”-kind-of-feeling, I’m still a strong believer in 2D maps for many purposes. For example, for gaining a global overview or for comparing some characteristic of, for example, Brazil and say India, a globe is just an impractical object. This is because you have to keep turning it back and forth (or, in the above case, if you are not at the controls, run back and forth or up and down) in order to check and compare the two places of interest.

Anyhow, I’ll still write that one onto my wishlist.

Google+ manifests new approach to Google interface design

The net is abuzz with the news about Google+, Google’s newest attempt to counter Facebook’s dominance in the realm of social networks. Besides India and Brasil, where Google’s Orkut seems popular, the search engine giant has so far failed to successfully enter the social network ground.

"On one hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch. On the other hand, you'll never be able to convince your parents to switch!" (by xkcd)

Currently, Google+ is invite-only, so no hands-on testing. But what can be said already from one of the teaser videos is that the visual design of the newest Google product deviates somewhat from what we are acquainted with out of the Googleplex. Engadget has collected numerous trailers highlighting Google+ features, the one in question is The Google+ project: A quick look, embedded below: Continue reading