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[liberationtech] ThinkUp

Nathan of Guardian nathan at
Sun Nov 20 17:23:42 PST 2011

.. and developed as open-source project by Gina Trapani!

On 11/20/2011 07:24 PM, Yosem Companys wrote:
> Interesting startup by Anil Dash and former Kickstarter CTO Andy Baio...
> Yosem
>  <>Designing ThinkUp 2.0
> Over the past year, through 8 alpha and 15 beta releases,
> ThinkUp<> has
> evolved into a rich platform that captures and analyzes data from Twitter,
> Facebook, and Google+. All this time, the developer community has been more
> focused on ThinkUp's internal engine than its user-facing look and feel.
> ThinkUp's current design, generously created by Bill F. at
> Dash30<> in
> his free time, came together in a piecemeal fashion, bit by bit, as new
> functionality emerged.
> So far, we haven't taken a comprehensive, user-focused approach to
> designing ThinkUp's application interface and design. That's about to
> change.
> For the past 7 months, Expert Labs has been working closely with Mule
> Design<> to
> define what our target users want and need, and how the application can
> serve those needs, clearly and in the spirit of ThinkUp's community and
> mission. We're so pleased with the ThinkUp 2.0 look and feel Mule Design
> has created, and we're thrilled to finally pull back the curtains and
> unveil their work.
> Today, Mule Design's Erika Hall explains ThinkUp 2.0's design, and the
> research and thinking behind it. Read on to get the details and catch a
> sneak preview of what to expect in ThinkUp 2.0.
> ------------------------------
> Now that we have been working with the (terrific) ThinkUp team at Expert
> Labs for a little while, together, we have arrived at a design that meets
> key goals and forms a strong basis for future development.
> We want to share this design with the wider community to make sure that we
> haven’t missed anything essential to ThinkUp.
> The Background
> At the beginning of the project we conducted initial research and
> established key goals for the application design. These goals guided all of
> the subsequent design work.
> The goals
>    - Encourage strategic use of data from social media.
>    - Create a look and feel that is warm, welcoming, and supportive of the
>    strategic goals of Expert Labs.
>    - Accommodate users from a variety of organizations and technical
>    backgrounds.
>    - Structure application interactions around user need and core
>    application capabilities.
>    - Simplify workflow and messaging.
>    - Create guidelines for making design choices that the open source
>    community can use as the application develops.
> What we heard from current and potential users
> During our research we conducted 7 interviews. We grouped these interviews
> into 4 user types: 2 Small Businesses, 2 Content- & Community-Focused
> Organizations, 2 Government Agencies, and 1 Personality Type User. Of these
> 7 interviews, 5 were current ThinkUp users and 2 were potential users.
>    - Current users know what they would like to do with the application but
>    not how to accomplish the goal.
>    - Users know the difference between communication/content creation and
>    analysis but will focus less on analysis if the way to do that is less
>    clear.
>    - Lack of prioritization means users stick to what they already
>    understand
>    - Users have high expectations for accuracy. The complexity and
>    inconsistency of messaging reduces trustworthiness.
>    - Users had some trouble with language choices that were misleading or
>    “put them off” the application a bit.
> In order to meet these goals for the application design, we worked in close
> collaboration with the Expert Labs team to create a simple, extensible
> interface framework visual design system that would lend itself to
> continued application development.
> The overall structure
> In order to accommodate continued growth and development of ThinkUp, a key
> goal of the redesign was to create a solid, intuitive structure.
> Dashboard
> The dashboard aggregates all of the key insights across social networks.
> The other areas of the application are divided among the basic questions
> that ThinkUp should answer:
> Activity: What has [profile] published or interacted with in social media?
> Response: What is the social media reaction to [profile]?
> Connections: Who is responding or interacting to [profile]?
> Conversations: What discussions are taking place?
> Links and Media: What media or topics are appearing in the activity?
> Each of these acts as a filter and a lens on the social media activity
> coming through the application, allowing the user to focus on a given
> aspect of all activity to answer the most relevant questions at the moment.
> Within each of these areas, there is typically an insight stream, labeled
> Updates, which is an opportunity for ThinkUp to report back any
> observations of note, insights pulled from the data, relevant to that area
> of the application.
> Any data relevant to that section can be graphed.
> And following that is the activity stream for the section filterable by
> service or activity type.
> Also, Saved Searches offers the opportunity to save reports.
> The Look and Feel
> We designed the application in warm greys in order to be easy on the eyes
> during frequent use and allow the information to come forward. The
> interface itself is lightweight while retaining a sense of dimensionality
> for a little bit of visual sophistication. We intend the navigational
> elements to very clearly orient the user in the application without
> dominating the experience.
> The pages posted here to exemplify the design system are:
> Dashboard
> [image: Tu_1_dashboard]<>
> Activity
> [image: Tu_3_activity]<>
> Conversation
> [image: Tu_5a_conversation]<>
> Connections
> [image: Tu_4_connection_2]<>
> Account Info
> [image: Tu_2a_accountinfo]<>
> The Interface Elements
> Here's some of the thinking behind each of the interface elements.
> Header
> We kept the header very light and focused on information about the profile
> the current user is working with. If there are multiple profiles, the user
> can switch among them.
> Secondary Navigation
> Within an individual profile, the next most important element to the
> framework is the secondary navigation down the left side. If there is new
> activity in that area, the green indicator "lights up" to encourage the
> user to explore the different views of the information.
> Messages
> On the dashboard you will see the message styles for system
> messages/alerts, tips, and new activity.
> Profile Pics
> Within ThinkUp we have begun to create a visual language for different
> relationships, so the user can tell at a glance the significance of another
> user. Arrows signify whether it is a one-way, or mutual relationship and a
> border indicates that the user has exceeded a threshold of "importance".We
> kept this visual language very light so that the user pic remains the
> dominant visual element.
> Updates
> This is a stream of any trends,  milestones, or significant changes ThinkUp
> has noted along with a visual indicator of whether this is positive or
> negative for the profile.
> Summary of Activity
> For cases in which it is possible to visualize activity trends, we have
> provided a visual language for graphs. We anticipate this will be a rich
> area of further application enhancement.
> Activity Stream
> For cases such as [Profile] Activity and Reponses (From others on social
> media platforms, this activity can be viewed in a continuous stream and
> filtered by service or other criteria.)
> All of the modular elements that appear in the primary content well are
> designed to be collapsible to the header to help the user focus on the
> desired set of insights.
> We also included the design for the Account Settings page to illustrate
> what any form in the application would look like.
> NOW: Looking at this model we developed working with Gina, Andy, and Anil,
> let us know if we can clarify anything or answer any questions in order to
> help you, the community, extend the system and further develop the model to
> help ThinkUp be the best, most useful and pleasant way to capture content
> and get insights from your social media activity.
> ------------------------------
> Send your questions and feedback about Mule Design's work to the ThinkUp
> project mailing list <>, or post
> here in the comments. We're excited to hear what you think.
> Posted by Gina Trapani on 09/30/2011 |
> Permalink<>
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