UX 101 – Coming to Terms

A mentor once told me that “conflicts are the collision of dreams”. A source of conflict is when two people use the same word to mean different things. For example, when I say dinner, I really mean sitting around a table sharing a meal with people I care about. Someone else may say “dinner” and mean consuming food. A conflict will happen if I invite someone to dinner and the person says “how about picking something up for yourself”. What does this have to do with UX Design? Everything.

Terms are important. For example, the term “mobile” can mean many things. When someone says “mobile”, they are likely saying “Smart Phones, tablets (iPads and Android tablets), and windows touch stuff”. Someone else may use “mobile” to mean Smart Phones and iPads. Dreams will collide if these two people are in the same room without first coming to terms.

Mobile for Apple, Android, and Microsoft means different things. I would argue that Apple and Android use mobile to mean similar things. Apple decided to provide a completely different experience in mobile from the desktop. For Microsoft, mobile meant something different. Their tablets replicate the desktop experience.

Key UX lesson – avoid conflicts by first coming to terms.

Redesigning a bar chart using Edward Tufte’s principles

Data Visualization is challenging and rewarding. One of my favorite projects was designing an Email Analytics dashboard. Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitive Information was super helpful.

Two weeks ago I created bar chart to visualize the number of times Jesus quoted from the Old Testament. I used a tool that produces noisy bar charts. As a challenge, I used Tufte’s principles to redesign it.


Steps taken to clean up the bar chart

  1. Removed the horizontal axis
  2. Changed grid from gray to white
  3. Moved the grid from the back of the bars to the top
  4. Flattened the chart to give it a modern look (not a Tufte principle)
  5. Moved labels to the bottom – I should have made them smaller

There is room for improvement but I think progress was made. Next week I’ll apply principles by Jacques Bertin to the chart.


Why Christians Should Study the Old Testament

Quora is awesome. You can ask all kinds of stuff and get great answers. I spend a bit of time there, mainly reading. I came across a question that pushed me to answer: Why is the Old Testament included in the Christian Scriptures. It seems that followers of Christ have forgotten their roots. A Christian who does not know the Tanakh (The Old Testament), is like a ship without a rudder. A good example of Christians who did not know the Old Testament can be found in the Corinthian Church. The Church was out of control and abusing grace in the name of spiritual freedom. Just to be clear, the other end of the spectrum is a Church that forgets the Gospel by becoming legalistic – a good example of this can be found in Galatians.  The main reason why a Christian should read, know, and understand the Tanakh is because Jesus is Jewish. He relied heavily on the Tanakh – while he was tempted in the wilderness, and to clarify what was written in it, among other things.

Using data found in biblicalstudies.org, I made a chart showing how many times Jesus referenced the Tanakh in the Synoptic Gospels.  Directly means Jesus quoted directly from the Tanakh while indirectly means He referenced a person or place.


use of the OT by the Lord Jesus


A few observations:

  • Given that the Gospel of Matthew was written for a Jewish audience, it makes sense why there is more direct references to the Tanakh.
  • Since Luke was written for a Greek audience and non-Jewish people in general, there is less direct references to the Tanakh.
  • Mark was written for a Roman audience – people of action  and little to no knowledge of the Tanakh – Mark does not reference the Tanakh much.
  • All of the Synoptic Gospels still quote Jesus referencing the Tanakh