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thomasvoekler

Datascape Live

Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) held off the peloton on the uphill finish to win the first stage of the Tour de la Provence in Cassis, in the south of France.

The Veteran Frenchman attacked with two laps of the final circuit remaining and had time to celebrate before crossing the line on the steep finish. Petr Vakov (Etixx-QuickStep) was second and Voeckler’s teammate Lilian Calmejane was third.

Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) held off the peloton on the uphill finish to win the first stage of the Tour […]

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OhHereIsWhatIWasThinking

Oh That is What I was Thinking

In this tutorial, we’ll be covering some of the basics of formatting your WordPress posts with the built-in WordPress post editor formatting options.

The majority of your formatting options can be found in the Post Editor Toolbar. If you’ve ever used a word processing software such as Microsoft Word, most of these icons should look familiar.

To get started formatting your WordPress posts, visit Posts > Add New or Post > All Posts and select the post you’d like to edit.

The formatting icons included in the WordPress post editor include:

  • In the first row of the toolbar, we have options to bold, italize or strikethrough text. To bold text, Just select the text you’d like to format and click the bold button. You’ll see this text has been bolded.
  • The next two icons are for bulleted and numbered lists. If you’d like to add a list to a post, just select the text, then click that icon.
  • The quotation mark icon is the block quote feature. By default, this will add an indentation and italicized style to your selected text. (Note: your WordPress theme controls how block quotes are styled on the front end of your site.)
  • Next are alignment options. You can choose to align left, center or align right.
  • The next icon is the insert more tag. This will change how much text your blog page displays with a read more link.
  • If you’d prefer to write your posts in distraction free mode, click this icon. This will take you to full-screen writing mode similar to using a Word processing software. To exit out of this mode, we’ll click “exit fullscreen.”
  • If we click the Show/hide the kitchen sink, another line of formatting options will be revealed. Here you add heading styles to your text, underline text or set a full alignment.

In this tutorial, we’ll be covering some of the basics of formatting your WordPress posts with the built-in WordPress post editor formatting options.[…]

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Nature driven design

Form is constrained by function

Data Visualisation forms should be constrained by their function. I explain the background to this design principle and how to select the right form.

The maxim “Form follows function” was first stated in 1739 by American Sculptor Horatio Greenough and later became a battle cry for the architect Louis Sullivan roughly 100 years ago and was restated by Frank Lloyd Wright as “Form and Function are one”.

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Along with “Less is More” it has been hugely influential to designers ever since, either being taken literally or wholeheartedly rejected. Today, the implication in “form follows function” is that as long as the functional requirements are satisfied form will follow and seem pleasing. However, this is not the original intention, Sullivan was pointing out for example that in nature the form of a living entity expresses its inner life and essence (the function), they are so intrinsically related that they are one.

What Sullivan actually said was that “Form ever follows function” and he was actually describing natural objects where the shape expresses the inner life or essence of the animal, in this way they are intrinsically linked.

According to Victor Papanek, respected industrial designer, “this statement has contributed to a seeming divorce between that which works well and that which is beautiful”. He goes on to say that “The concept that what works well will of necessity look well has been the lame excuse for all the sterile, operating-room-like furniture and implements of the 1930’s and 1940’s”. He was specifically talking about dining room tables, which although highly functional looked like operating tables. Nothing about the table said “Come dine off me” or spend some quality social time around me. In his experience “the most often heard, the most understandable, yet mixed up question” he hears from designers is “Should I design it to be functional or to be aesthetically pleasing”. In other words “Do you want it to work or to look good?” “Barricades are erected between what are really just two of the many aspects of creating a functioning design”.

iPhone

But we should ask ourselves the question – How relevant is “Form follows function” to data viz and other technology design? Not very because there is no hard connection between the objects form and its function. If we take an iPhone (which is packed with microelectronics) there is no clue as to what the button does. The connection between form and function must be learned.

One of the interesting characteristics of early UI design, that helped us learn this connection between technological function and form, is the use of common widgets or metaphors that bridged the user experience back to its mechanical predecessor.

Dials And Gauges

Is this not why we call our data vizs “Dashboards” as it is a metaphor for a control device? And also the reason for the prevalence of gauges and various other meter type visual components.

But now our users are more sophisticated via the consumerisation both of gadgets and BI. When we turn to interactive data vizs we should certainly honour this sophistication and use features and charts that they are familiar with e.g. Faceted Search, accordion menu controls etc.

So it is true that function does not necessarily determine form. But it is also true that “the form of a technological object must depend on the tasks it should help with”. So a more appropriate take on this is provided by Alberto Cairo who put it succinctly that “The form should be constrained by the function” i.e. having a detailed understanding of the tool’s function is critical to picking the right form. Whilst there may be more than one way to encode the data properly, so that the users can obtain meaning from it, the data cannot adopt any form. Choosing visual shapes to encode information should not be based on aesthetics and personal taste alone. 

Trip Advisor

Data Visualisation forms should be constrained by their function. I explain the background to this design principle and how to select the right for[…]

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