Weekend project: Data visualization / User interfaces

So, yesterday, I’ve been hacking a data visualization library for C++. (See note here)

Some minor improvements – good enough is the enemy of perfect 😉

It’s far from being decent (I find myself struggling with good data types), but it got me googling UI/UX. Again. UI/UX is such an interesting – and difficult to learn – topic. I own a number of books on it (Humane Interface and the like), but I’m no designer or UX specialist. However, in my field, there is sadly no place for someone like that, so the only way to get good interfaces is to learn how to do them myself.

And it seems, the only way to do that is continous improvement.

My approach to cracking any hard problem is to try to break it into smaller, solveable problems. I don’t see myself designing anything amazing soon (that’s not what I’m getting paid for, and learned to do), but making one diagram better is possible:
I simply look at other people’s work, find great examples, try to understand what makes them beautiful and try to do the same. Sometimes it works. It’s better than nothing, anyway.

Recently, pinterest has proven to be a great place to go for inspiration.

I’ll just dump a couple of links here for me to go back later:

http://pinterest.com/tristanphilippe/application-design/

http://pinterest.com/janeystapes/user-interface/

http://pinterest.com/febarbato/user-interface/

http://pinterest.com/chriscalvino/ui-ux/
I’ve also subscribed to the Stackexchange newsletter on UI. It’s mostly Web-design-oriented, but it gives a weekly overview of “hot” topics, good questions and sometimes  gets me thinking about stuff I don’t know. I also subscribe to a number of RSS feeds (mainly the big data visualization blogs).

And part of me wants to move my library to something like 3D, cause I truly like those soft-glowy-kind of effects like in this button.

http://pinterest.com/pin/87960998943149507/

But that would mean I’d have to really improve my data structures for this, to make it really abstract and seperate it from the rendering.. I should really look how other visualization libs (there’s plenty of the with all kinds of web stacks) do this. I really should. Sometime…

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