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‘Designing with the user in mind’ – Talk Sketchnote

23 Jul

Sketchnote of Jenny Cham's ISMB talk

Here is a sketchnote for the UX talk Jenny Cham gave at ISMB/ECCB 2013 conference, in Berlin, on Tues 23 July.

Presentation Title:Designing with the user in mind: how UCD can work for bioinformatics

Talk blurb:  It is recognised that bioinformatics resources often suffer from usability problems: for example, they can be too complex for the infrequent user to navigate, and they can “lack sophistication” compared to other websites that people use in their daily lives. In this presentation, I describe specific case studies to show how user-centred design (UCD) principles can be applied to bioinformatics services.

We love sketchnotes!

If you like sketchnotes, follow these links to find more!:

Sketchnotes by Francis Rowland (on Flickr)

Sketchnotes by Jenny Cham (on Flickr)

Postdoc in Leuven: Genomic variation discovery using visual analytics

18 Jul

Interested in a postdoc position in lovely Leuven, Belgium?


The SymBioSys consortium currently have a postdoc position available at the University of Leuven (Belgium) on the topic of genomic variation discovery using visual analytics. The aim is to use visualization in combination with machine learning to improve on current methods of identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms and structural variation in (human) genomes.

Full details and how to apply can be found over at the Flowing Data job board.

Drupal at the EBI

28 Sep

Content, content, content. You’re writing it, editing it, scheduling it – great. But how do you manage it? Oh yes, a content management system.

At the EBI, we have been working with Drupal for some time, and now there is a nascent community of Drupal users and developers across the EBI, which is great. In order to bring everyone up-to-speed, my colleague, Bren Vaughan, coordinator of the “External Services” web team in which I work, gave a short presentation, explaining Drupal to an EBI audience.

Also, if you want something to print out and stick on your wall (!), you can see my sketchnotes of Bren’s talk:

Part of the Drupal at the EBI sketchnotes

Contrast Rebellion

29 Jul

Nice site showing examples of what and what not to do when creating web pages, particularly those with plenty of text with respect to readability.

An example with bad contrast....

An example with good contrast...

Search UX: Going with the flow

23 Jun

Charlie Hull, organiser of Cambridge’s Enterprise Search Meetups, invited me to talk at one of their events about UX design for search.

I spoke about “going with the flow“, and how any search activity needs to fit within a user’s flow of overall activities. I also wanted to make the point that developers can have a big impact on UX design. In the world of search, part of this is the power of analytics, which can give us quantitative data about what people are searching for, and how successful they are.

Web Design is 95% Typography

22 Mar

I have a confession to make: I love typography. And having just read Web Design is 95% Typography, I think I love it just a little bit more:

95% of the information on the web is written language. It is only logical to say that a web designer should get good training in the main discipline of shaping written information, in other words: Typography.

Macro-typography (overall text-structure) in contrast to micro typography (detailed aspects of type and spacing) covers many aspects of what we nowadays call “information design”.

Optimizing typography is optimizing readability, accessibility, usability(!), overall graphic balance.

Ampersand web typography conference: 17 June 2011, Brighton UK

22 Mar

The Ampersand web typography conference is taking place in Brighton on Friday 17 June 2011. Tickets £125 + VAT.

Ampersand is an affordable one-day event for knowledgable web designers & type enthusiasts, featuring:

Vincent Connare, creator of Comic Sans; David Berlow, type designer & cofounder of The Font Bureau; Tim Brown, type manager for Typekit & maker of Nice Web Type; John Daggett, Firefox developer & editor of the CSS3 Fonts Module; Mark Porter, former creative director of; Jon Tan, web designer at Analog & cofounder of Fontdeck; plus special guest.

Talk: Design games for prioritising requirements

1 Mar

Our talk for March will be on “design games for prioritising requirements“.

WHEN: 13h00, March 16
WHERE: M203 (the function room next to Murrays restaurant, where the HSF meetings take place), Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton

Requirements prioritisation games

Continue reading

InfoViz – function before form

25 Feb

An audio slideshow on the BBC News website caught my eye. It describes a selection of photos that made it into the Wellcome Image Awards, and is nicely narrated by the head of Wellcome Images, Catherine Draycott.

Confocal micrograph of cell division

Confocal micrograph of cell division in a cress seedling

Apart from the stunning imagery (and it really is amazing!), I was impressed by something that the narrator said:

“[The images] look beautiful, but they are not art… They are striking, aesthetically, but they weren’t created to be so”

These images are visualizations of complex biological structures or concepts, in the same way that visualizations of giant biological datasets are. Yes, they may be beautiful to look at, but function comes before form. They are a powerful communication tool, and their aesthetic value, while important, is secondary. I thought it was interesting to have that reiterated here.

Anyway, if you haven’t already seen this slideshow, please enjoy!

Tom Scott – Using linked data to describe the natural world

16 Feb

Jo McEntyre from the Literature Services team invited the BBC’s Tom Scott to talk to us about how they use linked data, a URI system that makes sense and customised ontologies.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Tom’s slides are available online. I sketched my notes… make of them what you will!

Francis Rowland's sketch notes from Tom Scott's talk


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