Archive for January, 2013

Metaphors We Live By: a rich resource for makers of infographics

Saturday, January 26th, 2013
book cover of George Lakoff's book Metaphors we live by - with simple geometric pattern as illustration

Metaphors We LIve By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

In the book ‘Metaphors We Live By’, the authors explain that metaphors are so deeply embedded in our thought processes that they shape our perceptions, understanding and behavior without our noticing. While reading his analysis of the types of metaphor, it occured to me that this book is a resource for the creation of infographics.

It’s full of examples in which he gathers together whole groups of common expressions around a specific metaphor.

Consider this example:

‘THEORIES (AND ARGUMENTS) ARE BUILDINGS’

Is that the foundation for your theory? The theory needs more support. The argument is shaky. We need some more facts of the argument will fall apart. We need to construct a strong argument for that. I haven’t figured out yet what the form of the argument will be. Here are some more facts to shore up the theory. We need to buttress the theory with solid arguments. The theory will stand or fall on the strength of that argument. The argument collapsed. They exploded his latest theory. We will show that theory to be without foundation. So far we have put together only the framework of the theory.’

Other books by George Lakoff:
Women, Fire and Dangerous Things

Philosophy in the Flesh

His explanations can help us pick metaphors for visualizations which don’t fall prey to contradictions and ambiguity. If nothing else, it’s fun just to read ALL those metaphors and visualize them.

Infographic representation of user test results

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Created a neat new way to visualize the efficiency / effectiveness exhibited by small groups of test respondents. The example in this document is based on a real test, but of course the client and organization have been eliminated for reasons of confidentiality.
Now: which one of you wants to create a little app that generates this infographic automatically? I have some suggestions for the player interface :)

Infographic chart showing vertical time line with rectangles representing web pages found during browsing by usability test respondents.

Chart shows vertical time line for each user - each dot is 10 seconds. The green squares are right pages clicked, the red ones are wrong ones.

Here’s an example of a page with results of 7 users. Note how the end points make a neat little graph showing the success rate. In the remarks at bottom, you find an explanation of one user’s behavior, which looked like failure but actually wasn’t.

Example of chart with results of usability tests for seven respondents.

Note how the end points form a graph of the success rate.