My name's Mike McDearmon and this is my blog. I write about product design, user experience, data visualization, and the Internet.

The NYC Subway System Untangled

Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Most existing maps and diagrams of the NYC subway system are heavily distorted – typically by necessity so that riders see spatial relationships that are most useful when traveling. To get a sense of what the system would look like accurately scaled, though, I had to create my own image: Roll your cursor over the READ MORE

The UX/UI Prototyping Tools List

Monday, December 1st, 2014

Without an industry standard to make life simple, the world of Web application design is stacked with dozens of prototyping tools – each working to carve out a niche in a crowded field. The result can be an overwhelming burden of choice with the potential of picking the wrong tool for the job. The list READ MORE

UX/UI Rapid Prototyping with VUE

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about VUE, a free diagramming and mind mapping desktop application by Tufts University. Useful for much more than simple diagrams, VUE has become a trusty companion that I use for everything from brainstorming sessions to complex application design. Rather than write about it again, I whipped up a READ MORE

Schedule Abstracted

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Here are three snapshots of my Google calendar from the first week of February 2012, 2013, and 2014. Life is getting busier, but even a hectic schedule can have a sense of serenity with all the text, labels, and interface elements removed. Week 5, 2012 Week 5, 2013 Week 5, 2014

Gravity and Color Ranges of Classic Beer Styles

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

Specific Gravity (SG) and Standard Research Measure (SRM) are two important factors brewers use to match their recipes with a particular style of beer. Because of the rise in popularity of home brewing and the availability of recipe kits, beginners can bypass most of the heavy lifting and brew a kit that’s already matched to READ MORE

Toll Bridges and Tunnels in NYC

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Wanna know how much your next drive across NYC is going to cost you? Use this tool to locate every toll crossing in the city and see the cost breakdown by vehicle and payment type (they make a big difference!). While you’re at it you can also find free crossing alternatives and learn which bridges READ MORE

5 Years of Valley Metro Light Rail Ridership Data

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

In late 2008, Phoenix and its neighboring cities were introduced to a brand new, 20-mile light rail line that connected three of the region’s most heavily populated areas. The system had an immediate impact, drawing almost 9 million riders in its first full year of operation and a host of urban redevelopment projects along the READ MORE

Ranking Data Dashboards on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

For a little over a year I’ve been collecting images of data dashboards of all shapes, sizes, and types on Pinterest. Now that the collection has reached 300 dashboards, I wanted to take a look back and see which ones the Pinterest community re-pinned the most (that is, which ones were re-shared on other user’s READ MORE

AZD3: A Collection of Arizona Maps Built on D3.js

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

AZD3 is a collection of Arizona maps at different levels of granularity. AZD3 maps are built with the D3.js library by Mike Bostock which uses HTML, SVG and CSS to create interactive data visualizations. The purpose of AZD3 is to provide templates for quickly visualizing Arizona statewide, county, city, and neighborhood data. Download the examples READ MORE

Colors for Data Visualization

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Color plays a significant role in how data visualizations are interpreted and the speed at which they are understood. Picking the right colors for the right occasion can be tricky and involves considering a lot more than just your audience. Fortunately, there are a several great Web apps devoted to helping you make better color READ MORE

Personal Data Dashboards from around the Web

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

With more data collection, analysis, and visualization tools emerging on the Web every day, more people are also creating and sharing their own data dashboards. Many of these are personalized iterations of behavior dashboards, tracking daily activities and habits with different levels of analysis and granularity. Most of the examples I’ve selected below come from READ MORE

Cleaning Data for Analysis and Visualization

Friday, August 30th, 2013

Taking the time to properly format your data from the get-go will save you from a world of hurt downstream. Anyone working in data analysis and visualization projects will inevitably encounter source materials that are far from ideal… in fact this happens more often than not. Typos, extra or missing white spaces, formatting issues, and READ MORE

Fun with D3 Maps

Monday, May 27th, 2013

In an effort to learn more of the mapping possibilities of D3.js, I whipped up a simple map that builds on Scott Murray’s fantastic tutorial found in his new book “Interactive Data Visualization for the Web”. At the same time, I’m hoping to build a solid framework for rapidly generating visualizations using data from my READ MORE

The Quantified Self: Resources for Personal Data Tracking

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Image credit MIT Technology Review Right now, there’s an app available for tracking just about every aspect of your day-to-day actions. You could record your exercise, your weight, the food you eat, your moods, the quality of your sleep, even how often you have sex. Much of the perceived value of these apps is that, READ MORE

Data Visualization Libraries Based on D3.JS

Monday, April 15th, 2013

There are a lot of ways to visualize data on the Web (with more emerging every day), but the flexibility, versatility, and energized development community surrounding D3.js makes it a great option to explore. The following list of D3 plugins, extensions, and applications below is by no means comprehensive, but oughta be enough to keep READ MORE

5 Apps for Wireframing and Sketching

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Without an industry standard for creating wireframes (sketches designed to guide a user through the functions and objectives of a graphical user interface) in the software development process, I found myself exploring a different app on each project with the hope that I’d eventually find one that fit the way I like to work — READ MORE

Wireframing and Brainstorming with VUE

Monday, March 11th, 2013

While this isn’t exactly hot off the presses, I wanted to give a shout-out to a free, open-source tool that’s come in handy for note taking, wireframing, presentations, storyboarding, brainstorming, sketching, diagramming, and even a few things in between. Workflow sketches made with VUE This awesome freebie is called VUE (Visual Understanding Environment) and was READ MORE

Design by Algorithm: Product Design Goes Parametric

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

“Vault” clock from LeeLABS. Parametric design is both an emerging and rapidly evolving process with no single definition. At its core, parametric (also called computational, procedural, generative, or algorithmic) design is the concept of using computers to automate and manipulate repetitive procedures. The idea is simple – let the computer handle the repetitive tasks almost READ MORE

Giveaway: 3D Studio Max Rendering Template

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Architects and Designers have a lot of powerful options when it comes to rendering these days, and refined images are becoming more important even in the early design stages of a project. What I’ve cooked up here is a rendering template for 3D Studio Max (2011+) that produces a high-quality output but keeps a sketchy READ MORE

Data, Data, Everywhere: the Rise of Personal Metrics

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Over the last several years we’ve seen an explosion in the use of infographics to provide us the “bigger picture” of our ever-expanding mountains of data – and rightly so. Metrics of our day-to-day activities are increasingly easy to track, in large part due to the fact that everything from eating to practicing an instrument READ MORE

Revit to Unity3D

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Unity3D is a powerful game development tool that has become increasingly popular due to the strengths of its real-time rendering engine, huge feature set (which is almost infinitely expandable via the asset store), and the ability to publish content to Web, mobile, and game console platforms. Revit is a Building Information Modeling (BIM) software package READ MORE