July review: Arealstatistik & Substratum

After one amazing month in Zurich, full of adventure as would testify my passport, time has come to do the first review on my internship at IXT.

So far I have had the opportunity to work on a broad range of projects, from conception to implementation/coding, and in different working environments, which has been very enriching in term of personal experience but also of skill learning.

Let’s begin with the Arealstatistik project. I worked on this project with Martina, the former intern who sadly left us mid-july. We had to create different concepts for an engaging and funny experience using the 3 sets of picture of Switzerland provided by Arealstatistik, which is basically a photographic mapping of Switzerland. Those sets are representing different period of time (one set is taking place on 12 years) of Switzerland’s landscape. Points of interest have been spotted indicating the places where the most important changes have occurred over time between those different sets. From this brief and three days streak of brainstorming, which is intense and where it is hard to detach yourself from the first  ideas to  come up with new ones,  we came up with five refined concepts properly documented. One of the most promising concept was the creation of a collaborative map around those points of interest recording the memories of people around those places (using videos, texts, sounds…). We also imagines more playful solution oriented toward children using a physical piece to navigate in the map displayed on the screen of the tablet device. Another approach was to let the user to play around with the data and allow him to create some abstract and emotional visualization that he would be able to print to keep a physical trace of it.

Substratum is another project that I am currently working on, and that I particularly like. This is basically a redesign of the existing website. Therefore, I went first through the whole website to identify all the navigation and user experience issues. Then I began to work on different solutions from the existing website and its content. I first thought of using a vertical navigation instead of a horizontal one, adding some playfulness and life to the homepage (using animation to slide from one issue to another for example) and being easely reusable in the interview part.

From this point I decided to go back to the “data” and analyze the interviews, their content and structure, to identify pattern and what is really mattering regarding this interviews. I came to realize that the structure was the same, following a defined set of question, and what was really defining the soul of the whole project is the person interviewed. From those insights, I decided to totally detached myself of the current design to explore a new way of navigating through the interview, focusing more on the people and their way of thinking, and having a more data centered approach.

This new way of seeing the project lead me first to the ideas of mind mapping and storytelling. I aimed to go toward a human approach of the data. After several exploration I came up with an idea of “paneled” navigation as illustrated in the following visuals.

The window is divided in two axis: the horizontal one corresponds to the questions composing the interviews, the vertical axis corresponds to the different interviewees classed by issue. Then every most important thoughts is accordingly mapped on the main canvas. In selectionning one interviewee you can identify his specific way of thinking compared to others. One thought can be linked to different interviewee, but is really “owned” by one person. It allows to spot the difference and similitude between the different interviewees.

The second approach is to condensed way of seeing the data and let the user to play around with the data, visualizing them in a way corresponding to his own need. A circle/treemap representation was first the most appealing but doesn’t fit well for website. It mutated toward a vertical layered visualization as shown in the visuals bellows.

The visualization is divided in three vertical portions. The top one corresponds to the questions, the bottom one to the interviewee. In the middle a word cloud of the most important thoughts is displayed corresponding to the user way of crossing the data. This visualization also allows connections to be made between the different interviewee, showing which one has the most in common or not. 

So far, I have lived a wonderful time at IXT, working on stimulating projects within an amazing team of super funny geekish guys, and in Zurich, a city full of surprises (yeah seriously speaking). Just hope it will be like this for the five months to come!