Graham Odds

I'm a designer working on complex systems across desktop, web and mobile. As Head of User Experience at Scott Logic, I work primarily with financial services and energy trading institutions, creating everything from direct-to-consumer investment applications to research, trading and analysis tools. I delight in pushing at what is possible to discover beautiful, effective solutions to problems.

Articles

Do You Need A Conversational UI?

Despite all the excitement around chatbots, conversational UIs and conversational commerce, you need to take a step back and consider whether they could be appropriate for your services. This post weighs up the potential against the current reality and highlights aspects to consider.

The Catch 22 of Conversational UIs

This blog post highlights an awkward problem in one of the key building blocks of an automated conversational UI and suggests a few strategies for how to deal with it.

Make Banking Talk

Conversational Commerce drastically re-imagines the way services are delivered to customers by moving interactions with them into chat, messaging or other natural language interfaces such as voice. The following video captures some of our initial thoughts on how this might apply to financial services.

Recommended Reading For Designers

I am often asked for recommended reading on design by people from all sorts of different backgrounds. My answers vary wildly depending on the person asking and the angle or topic I think might be most relevant to them. However, there are certain books that come up quite often so...

White Paper – Making Technology Disappear

Creating omni-channel experiences in enterprise is more often than not a challenge in terms of strategy and mindset rather than technology. This white paper outlines a twinned design and technical approach that ensures focus is squarely on users and the contexts within they use a system.

The Science behind Data Visualisation

An outline of principles that will help you design more compelling data visualisations, from the respective strengths of various means for visually encoding values to the most appropriate patterns for conveying relationships.

UX Scotland 2013

Last week I spoke at and attended UX Scotland 2013, a new user experience design conference organised by Software Acumen. Over the course of 2 days, 31 sessions and roughly 130 delegates ensured that Our Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh was filled with ideas, discussion and enthusiasm. Overall,...

Illusions in CSS

In an attempt to see how powerful pure CSS can be these days I decided to try implementing some of my favourite visual illusions without any JavaScript. Not only was this good fun, I gained quite a few insights into the current state of CSS.

When adaptive design goes wrong...

Some thoughts and concerns about adaptive systems, emphasising the necessity to seriously question any assumptions they operate under so that the benefits they might bring to the user experience of a product outweigh any frustrations or negativity.

Toob - London Underground travel app

Toob is a London Underground travel app for Windows 8 that I am designing and developing for CodeProject's App Innovation Contest. It is currently a work in progress but I have written an article introducing the application and going through some useful technical information for anyone interested in writing HTML5 applications for Windows 8.

Pretty pictures don't always tell the whole truth

A critical appraisal of my 'If Broad Habitats In The UK Were Clustered...' visualisation, highlighting some of its shortcomings and issues in the underlying data source that the 'pretty picture' does a good job of masking.

If broad habitats in the UK were clustered...

Intrigued by Mark Easton's question on Twitter, 'How much of Britain is built on?', and inspired by the associated article, The Great Urban Myth of Britain, I wanted to put the UK NEA's statement that '6.8% of the UK's land area is now classified as urban' into some kind of context that actually made sense to me.

How to undermine a good design: a case study

This article considers a recent change to the BBC Weather site as an example of how overuse of information visualisation techniques and inconsistent design decisions can undermine what is otherwise an excellent content-first experience.

UX London 2012

Last week I attended the UX London 2012 conference. This was my first public foray into the world of User Experience and it proved to be both educational and thought-provoking. Having read his book, Sketching User Experiences, I had high expectations of the opening presentation from...

Infographics - info = graphics

This article presents a concern I have regarding the development of infographics and shows an example of the kind of critical thinking I believe the world of infographics is unfortunately all too often missing.

Change is afoot in the lands of Flash and Flex

Adobe has recently made a number of rather muddled announcements around Flash and Flex that have caused confusion and concern in the development community. In this post I hope to clarify what actually has been said and present my take on what it might actually mean for those of us...

A Critique of Radar Charts

This article presents a critique of radar charts, a chart type commonly used to display multivariate data, higlighting how they are poorly designed to effectively communicate information in the underlying data, and presents a number of more effective alternatives.

Flash On The Beach 2011

Yesterday I spoke at the Flash On The Beach conference in Brighton as part of the Elevator Pitch session. I think the session went really well, with a great mixture of topics so (hopefully) everyone was suitably entertained. As previously mentioned, my 3-minute talk...

Static Initialisation in Flex

For reasons best ignored I recently investigated the different ways in which static initialisation code can be run in Flex. As well as a direct equivalent to the static initialiser blocks available in Java and C#, Flex has a couple of subtle variants that can prove...

Flash On The Beach 2011

Yesterday I received the exciting news that I will be speaking at the fantastic Flash On The Beach conference in Brighton this September. As Europe's biggest annual Flash conference it brings together leading minds from all over the industry and focuses on design and development in equal share....

Flex, Silverlight or HTML5? Time to decide...

Building on the experience and expertise within Scott Logic, my colleague, Colin Eberhardt, has produced an excellent whitepaper considering the three big web technologies at the moment: Flex, Silverlight and HTML5. Recent advances in web technologies have resulted in a complex landscape for...

Updating Flex Sparkline to Flex 4

In a previous post I presented a library of sparkline implementations for Flex 3. I have finally gotten round to updating it for Flex 4. The new source code, documentation and pre-compiled swf (namespace: http://www.scottlogic.com/sparkline) can be obtained from here. As before, the components are...

Presentation Model (or MVVM) with Mate

This post introduces the Presentation Model (or MVVM) architectural pattern as one approach for creating "better" large-scale Flex applications and shows how the Mate Framework can be leveraged to not only achieve this pattern but increase separation of concerns above...

Flex Charts vs Silverlight Charts - a test of Performance

This post follows on from the comparison of two Silverlight chart libraries produced by my colleague, Colin Eberhardt, by adding an implementation of the simple image processing tool in Flex using the Flex Charting library to the comparison. The results show that...

Logging to Server from Flex

An issue that can crop up with Flex applications is the lack of any log information to match up against users' bug reports. It is possible to configure the debug version of Flash Player to record trace() output, but most users do not have this setup....

Stephen Few Data Visualisation Workshop

Last week I attended a series of information visualisation workshops run by Stephen Few. The classes were based around his three books to date: Show Me The Numbers, Information Dashboard Design and Now You See It. Here follows an overview of the...

Contextual cues in user interface design

Contextual cues are frequently used in user interface design to communicate functionality and behaviour to the user, removing the need for the user to guess. For example, on the web, the underlining of text is commonly used to indicate a hyperlink. In addition to underlining, one or more of a...

Flex Sparkline

Sparklines are described by their inventor, Edward Tufte, as "data-intense, design-simple, word-sized graphics". They are an ideal tool for displaying trends for single entries within large data sets, for example, stock prices. As well as the standard miniature line series, Tufte's original specification introduces a ternary...

Microsoft apply for "Sparkline in the grid" patent

Microsoft have recently submitted US patent application 20090282325, entitled Sparklines in the Grid. My initial reaction, like many others in the data visualisation community, was one of anger at what appeared a blatant attempt by Microsoft to abuse the US patent system. However, I decided to examine...

Missing values in Flex charts

An oddness in default behaviour that can throw those new to Flex Charting is that segments in charts that should correspond to a data point are missing. By this I mean charts like those in the following example: