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of the most challenging and rewarding design projects I ever worked on was a
data visualization project for Microsoft when I worked at Gensler, an
architecture and planning firm. The problem? How to shuffle 50,000 employees
across 26 buildings on Microsoft's Redmond campus over a three-year period
while new buildings came available and old buildings were taken offline.
Microsoft's offices were sorely overcrowded and it was affecting productivity.
Workers were double- and sometimes triple-spaced, crammed into offices, nooks,
and crannies. A sign that business was good, but to keep it that way, workers
needed to be happy.
team started with empty maps and raw data. Lots and lots of raw data. Spreadsheets
full of it. With one piece of data looking as generic and bereft of meaning as
the next piece. Our job (the design team consisted of three space planners, two
designers, and one Excel programmer) was to find meaning in this data. Our job
was to visualize the story of how Microsoft's managers were going to handle the
monumental task of moving thousands of employees over time, some of them two or
three times by the time it was all finished.
story was there, we just didn't know it yet. And didn't know it until we'd
spent a few months analyzing the data, following pattern threads that looked
like they were telling us something, but then led to dead ends. So we explored
more, finally discovering the story revealed through patterns disclosed in maps
and management trees and color codes across time.
large Fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft, inefficient, poorly planned
staff relocations could lead to unacceptable downtime, costing a fortune in
lost productivity and decreased employee morale.
me, this was a crash course in business intelligence. For Microsoft, it led to
valuable business insights that allowed the company to effectively plan and
manage its workforce and office spaces through a period of rapid yet sustained
growth and change.
good visual design principles, it wouldn't have happened. Lucky for Microsoft,
the project manager who hired me knew visual communication design was crucial
to the success of this project. We were able to provide valuable insight around
change management by using the design elements of metaphor, scale, perspective,
color and visual hierarchy—which Angela Shen-Hsieh made a point of demonstrating
in last week’s webinar, “Designing with the Power of Data.”
our fifth “Breakthroughs” webinar, Angela, along with Jared Waxman from Adobe.com,
also mentioned the importance of teasing the right narrative and approaching
data visualization from a human-centered design perspective. Good data
visualization is knowing what story to tell and how to tell it in such a way
that humans understand and relate to it.
corporations have access to more data than they know what to do with. It often
comes in raw form, or poorly presented via simple, flat, pie charts and
spreadsheets. Which is unfortunate, because within many data sets there lives a
story to be told, a narrative to be followed, an insight to be realized. The
best way to discover these hidden narratives is by combining data with design. Here
are some resources to help you do that. Tell us in the comments if there are others that you find valuable.
In our next “Breakthoughs” webinar, on December 7, we’ll be talking about web typography with guest presenter Tim Brown of Typekit. AIGA members, you won’t want to miss it!
At last, web designers have the freedom to choose their typefaces as print designers do. Hear from Tim Brown, type manager for Typekit, about the possibilities for “Typography for the Web,” part of the “Breakthroughs” webinar series designed by Adobe and AIGA—exclusively for AIGA members.
On July 27, Callie Neylan, Dan Mall and Scott Fegette presented a “Breakthroughs” webinar on responsive web design, with handy tips AIGA members could put to use right away. Here are more resources they recommend.
Section: Inspiration -
interaction design, web design, professional development
Edward Tufte is an analytical design theorist, educator, and landscape sculptor best known for his trilogy of self-published books on analytical design—The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations—which provide practical advice on data display as well as an array of historic and contemporary examples. He received an AIGA Medal in 2004.
Section: Inspiration -
AIGA Medal, information design
If I met the younger version of myself, we’d take a walk—the same walk I
take every day—so I could explain to young me that routine and
paramount. You have to choose a category header, but it’s only as
permanent as you need it to be. You have to choose a theme song and stay
with it. Decide.
If only for an hour or a day or a week.
Section: Inspiration -
personal essay, advice
As summer approaches we are still basking in the fond springtime memories of Design Ranch 2013. The quiet moments by the river, the creative energy and inspiration in each and every workshop, the festive and warm moments making new friends by the fire, and the fellowship found in the dining hall, are all cherished moments that we carry with us back home. We returned to our daily lives refreshed and ready to face the world.
As a mother of two and a full-time art director at Savage, I regularly battle the ups and downs of being a mom in a designer’s world. Although it can be overwhelming at times, it can also be highly rewarding. As everyone handles the balance in their own way, I’ve assembled some thoughts and advice for creative working mothers.
Section: Tools and Resources
Big branding projects as told through the eyes of the client
Posted by Emily Gosling
2 days ago from
It's Nice That
2010 Studio On Fire Letterpress Calendar
Studio On Fire
“Sitting at a computer is not the place to get inspired. It’s where you put the inspiration to work.” @lottanieminen http://t.co/d0Z2uqkttI
11 hours ago
The New York Times
Visual Designer – Arizona State University
November 24, 2014
The Big One 2014
November 22, 2014
End the Lies