Odds/ ends

I’ve been working on quite a lot of things that I haven’t really managed to finish, so I thought I’d start putting them up here. Often when I’m doing a visualisation I’ll start with the analysis and then do the coding. Sometimes though I want to come up with a particular type of presentation, just to see how it works. Without the impetus of a decent piece of analysis behind it, though, they just languish on my hard drive.

There’s one particular example recently, where I wanted to do something compact for mobiles that would be interactive but simple. I based it on this idea by Scott Murray, which in turn was adapted here. Basically, what you’ve got in the example are three overlapping shapes. As you click one it moves to the front of the pack. It’s a really neat effect and you can try it out below.

At the same time, I was starting to get bothered by how the interactives I’d been working on aren’t great on mobiles. Those maps, for instance, are far too detailed for a 4 by 3 inch screen. All the clicking is really fiddly, the mouseover is actually a touch on a touch screen, which is also fiddly.

So this presentation seemed to be a good solution to that problem. You can have big things to click, but they overlap so they don’t take up much space. I thought that maybe you could use it for pie charts, showing each slice separately, which would give the slices more room. When I was working on it there had been some stats out about Food Banks and who was using them so I used those numbers. The text is too big cos I never got round to sizing it properly. And the colours are horrendous cos I never got round to doing nicer ones. Anyway.

What I thought, and still think, about this, is that it’s OK but a bit pointless. It seems a lot of work – a click! – to get one number. And there are only four numbers in the whole thing, including the total, that you see when you open it up. So I’m not really convinced it’s worth it. Also, it sort of doesn’t really work on a mobile. There’ some technical stuff I can’t quite crack about getting it to fill the screen and not doing this weird blinking thing on each click that happens at the moment. So it’s not great all round.

In retrospect, what happened here is that I had a solution – this nice bringing to the front thing that someone else had developed – and I tried to find it a problem to solve. That’s unlikely to be the right way round. I can see that the effect might be useful as a smaller part of something else, and I now have that on hand should I ever need it. But I’ll use it because I need it, not because I’ve got it.

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