Weeknote 20/29

Last week, I mentioned some of the programs I spent my time with. This week, there were two more which beautifully illustrate the breadth of issues a designer has the pleasure to deal with.

Soulver is a calculator – and more. From its website: “A playground for ideas involving math… it really shines when you use it to explore different scenarios and experiment with numbers.” Which aptly describes what I had to do.

In the project I’m working on, the central element is a list of website visitors sorted by relevance. This relevance is based on different kinds of interactions the visitor has made. But those interactions aren’t equal. Some are more significant than others to the recipient of this list. There is also a qualitative difference between an action that was made hours ago and one that is 3 weeks old. ¹

The idea was to calculate a score (including even more factors), so the visitors who are most relevant to our users can be ranked on top.

If you think that this should be done by a data analyst and a developer, you’re right. But before handing it over to them, a designer must have a good idea of what should influence that score and how. To understand this you need to get your hands dirty. Which in this case means math.

Ulysses is a Markdown editor. A tool for writing. I use it for all kinds of texts (including the one you are reading), but this week I also used it to write copy for the UI I’m redesigning.

Some users, research told us, misinterpreted what they saw.  There was nothing wrong with the data and how it was presented. Everything was “correct”, but while some people thought there was more activity than there actually was, others were puzzled about the lack of it (which was also a false conclusion).

This can be improved by visual design, but to understand all aspects, the interface needs explanation. So I tried to write precise descriptions, which turned out to be tricky. I made up to 10 versions of each text, picked the best, then went over them again, smithing the words until I had something that was comprehensive, clear and short.

From math to writing. All within one page layout.

I also send  another newsletter this week. Here’s an excerpt:

Mentorship for designers from underrepresented communities
After working more than 20 years in the field of design, I learned a thing or two. I’d love to pass along that experience, expertise and social capital to the next generation.

If you…

• are a designer (UI/UX, IXD etc) with around 1-3 years of professional experience
• belong to an underrepresented community
• like to pick other brains

… I’d like to hear from you. Let’s meet (in Hamburg or Zoom) for an hour and talk about design. If we both feel that this is helpful, we’ll continue.

If you know someone who fits the bill or know someone who might know someone who meets the criteria, please forward this email or share it.

For more context, click here.

  1. However, there is no difference between 10 and 20 weeks, so if you are imagine a graph, it is a curve that tapers off. At what point and how abruptly needs to be defined.