Information Design Amateur Hour on CNN

by emily on April 8th, 2014 - Comments (0)

Dirk Knemeyer on multimedia information design.

Over the past month numerous news outlets–CNN in particular–have devoted extensive coverage to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. While the story is certainly a tragedy, the degree to which its coverage has eclipsed that of stories like the Ukraine situation is a little curious. Regardless, what really raised my ire most recently was CNN’s featured homepage graphic related to the lost plane saga, shown here.

Health Axioms Sketches

The image that CNN featured in their April 7 homepage headline on was a screen capture from one of the videos associated with the story. Source: Malaysia Flight 370: ‘Our optimism is fading away, ever so slightly’ By Tom Watkins, CNN. April 7, 2014.

This is an example of some of the worst information design I’ve recently seen in such a prominent and frequently visited position on a major news site.

Let us examine the many problems here:

Because everything is important, nothing is important. No less than six pieces of data are put into boxed backgrounds and presented with some form of blaring text. What is really important? Where should the reader look? There is no information hierarchy here.

Fonts, fonts, so many fonts! There are (at least) eight different fonts being used on this graphic, if we count font type, size, color, and style. This inconsistency exacerbates the muddying of importance and hierarchy that was already introduced via other display techniques.

Superfluous information clutters a very small space, further undermining comprehension. The yellow callouts contain too much specific information to go with a headline. The lines showing mileage lack context when viewed outside of the video. At a glance, the combined elements serve to make ambiguous what the “Planned Search Areas April 7” are, which is a real problem!

And onward… Presumably the proper order of importance should be:

  1. Focus on the fact that there are search areas planned for April 7 and indicate where those areas will be. The copy in the current box is correct, but it should relate to the red highlight boxes in color presentation, not the completely unrelated white/black that is currently used (and which is also redundant with the cognitively unrelated AUSTRALIA box). Moving this “Search Areas” callout to the upper left of the graphic would also bring it spatially proximate to the actual spots it is calling out to.
  2. Identify the spots where signals were detected. This should be done with a single callout box that reads something like “Possible signals detected” pointing to both of the bulls-eye graphics. These elements should share a color palette to emphasize their relationship (so, green/back/white instead of yellow/black). This callout should be located in the lower left or lower middle to be spatially proximate to the actual spots it is calling out to.
  3. Clarify the purpose of showing the distance of each of the five ocean locations to Learmonth and Perth. If important, each of the five targets should clearly be pointed to instead of just the four lines shown (and some of those being ambiguous as to what they are pointing to and why). This needs consistency of treatment and clarity of purpose. Still, these are too detailed for a headline image and would be best simply left out.
  4. Make geographic elements consistent. The label identifiers for the relevant locations: Australia, Perth, Learmonth, and Indian Ocean should be presented more subtly, similar to “Indian Ocean” on the original graphic. They should be completely presented–not cut off as “Australia” and “Indian Ocean” are, or obscured like “Southern” in the lower right.

Here is our version of a redesign, from Involution designer Jen Patel:

Redesigned Planned Search Areas graphic.

A cleaner, clearer version of the “Planned Search Areas” graphic. Designed by Jen Patel.

Executing strong information design is not difficult, but as CNN has illustrated, very poor information design is unfortunately easier to fall into than we might like it to be. A well-crafted, succinct headline deserves a clean and clear graphic.

About Involution Studios
Involution designs and builds exceptional software for innovative and visionary companies. We specify, architect, design, and develop applications for web, mobile, desktop, devices, and emerging technologies. Involution deploys small and experienced teams to create applications that are highly usable and appropriately beautiful. Founded in 2004, complex, mission critical software has always been our business. We’ve produced high-quality applications that are being used every day by over 150 million people. Our clients include Apple, AstraZeneca, 3M Health Information Systems, McAfee, Microsoft, Oracle, Personal Genome Project, Partners HealthCare, and US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Involution’s Arlington Visual Budget Wins 2014 iF Communication Design Gold Award

by emily on February 17th, 2014 - Comments (0)

For Immediate Release
if logo

ARLINGTON, MA (U.S.) – February 7, 2014 – Online Budget Visualization Tool, Designed by Involution Studios with Town of Arlington, MA Offers Financial Transparency to Taxpayers

Arlington Visual Budget has been selected as a winner of the 2014 iF Communication Design award.

Since its introduction in 2004, the iF Communication Design award has been among the top national and international awards. Designs from advertising agencies, communication designers and their clients, manufacturers, designers, architects and interior architects face the jury judgment.

More than 1,000 entries were assessed according to criteria such as target audience-specific communication and content, design quality and creativity, customer relevance, cost effectiveness, originality and innovation. Of the 311 iF Communication Design award winners, Arlington Visual Budget was among only 20 that received the iF gold award in recognition for an outstanding work of communication design. They will be announced on 28 February 2014 during the awards ceremony in Munich (Germany).

In the fall of 2013, Involution Studios of Arlington, MA, along with the Town of Arlington and Finance Committee members Annie Lacourt and Alan Jones, conceptualized a web application that provides an easier way to communicate complex municipal financial information. Involution donated all development services for this project, the first known municipal budget visual representation of its kind.

The initiative exemplifies the nation’s commitment to the international Open Government Partnership (OGP), a global effort to encourage transparent, effective, and accountable governance. President Obama has challenged agencies to “harness new technologies” and “solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public” and emphasizes a “bottom-up” philosophy that taps citizen expertise to make government smarter and more responsive to private sector demands.

AVB screen
AVB provides the next generation of accessibility in financial information that enables citizens to see, engage, and discuss.

The Visual Budget system converts the town’s revenues and expenditures to simple graphics and charts that describe Arlington’s finances. It also provides definitions for complex budgeting terminology, and includes a tool where residents can input their yearly property tax bill and find out exactly how the town spends their tax dollars. Taxpayers can learn about town revenues, expenses, and funds displayed in both graphical and tabular formats. What’s more, the system enables users to provide feedback and ideas, an essential component of empowering citizens with both information and a greater voice in decision-making.

Town Management Analyst Michael Bouton said he was happy to work with Involution’s creative team on the project. “It was a blank canvas,” Bouton said. “We came in with an idea and the conceptualization of it was them.” Involution designers Roger Zhu and Ivan Dilernia donated their time, and the company has made the code for the project available online for other town governments to use. An Arlington resident, Involution’s Creative Director Juhan Sonin was excited about the collaboration, saying “It’s a part of our civic responsibility as designers to get involved in the design of policy.”

Read what the Sunlight Foundation says about how the Arlington Visual Budget will be used in 2014.

About Involution Studios
Involution designs and builds exceptional software for innovative and visionary companies. We deploy small and experienced teams to create applications that are highly usable and appropriately beautiful. Our client list includes Apple, AstraZeneca, McAfee, Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, Shutterfly, and Yahoo. For more information please contact or +1 617 803 7043.

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Involution Studios Releases The Health Axioms

by emily on February 14th, 2014
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For Immediate Release

ARLINGTON, MA (U.S.) – February 14, 2014 – Involution Studios Health Axioms: Mantras for patients to change themselves, their clinicians, and the new digital healthcare system.

A pocket-sized deck of 32 illustrated cards, Involution’s Health Axioms are intended to provide practical support for good health habits. Each card features a specific action that can help move people […]

Open Humans Project Wins Knight Foundation: Health Award

by emily on February 4th, 2014
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How did a workshop with Involution take the Personal Genome Project from “a bunch of ideas” to the creation of the award-winning Open Humans Network?

The Knight News Challenge: Health asked innovators to present solutions that harness the power of data for the health of communities, with a strong focus on civic participation and solution building. Among the seven […]

Involution Columbus Teams Up with Test Double for Open Office Hours

by Jon on December 3rd, 2013
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Since June 2012, Involution has held weekly Office Hours, opening our doors to the public every Thursday afternoon from 4 PM – 6 PM and inviting anyone with a design issue or project to come by the studio for help. We’ve conducted these Office Hours at both our Boston and Columbus locations.

Over the past year and a half, we’ve […]

A UX Podcast Playlist for Your Thanksgiving Travels

by Jon on November 26th, 2013
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This year, as you prepare for your turkey-day travels, stock up your smart phone with a playlist from The Digital Life podcast. More so than any other holiday, Thanksgiving requires that we all commute at the same time to somewhere … else. So, as you sit, bumper to bumper with your fellow Americans, be educated and entertained by smart […]

Creating the Health Axioms

by Jon on October 18th, 2013
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The team at Involution Studios — made up of Sarah Kaiser, Jane Kokernak, Kelly Mansfield, Harry Sleeper, and Juhan Sonin — created the Health Axioms card deck over an eight-month period. Starting with a dozen core, personal health habits, they turned these initial ideas into short catch phrases. Sarah and Kelly drew hundreds of sketches, which often drove the name […]

Arlington Releases Online Budget Visualization Tool Designed by Involution

by Jon on October 8th, 2013
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As part of the Town’s continuing effort to improve transparency, Arlington is announcing the launch of Arlington Visual Budget (AVB). AVB is a new online tool intended to provide the public with a visual representation of the Town’s financial history and outlook, as well as illustrate key trends. AVB allows users to dive into the budget like never before using […]

Guiding EHR Design

by Jen on September 30th, 2013
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A truly powerful electronic healthcare record (EHR) encompasses more than just passing information between the physician and the patient: It should be a tool that benefits the physician’s efficiency and, most importantly, the patient’s health.

Involution Studios is working with the University of Missouri, with Jeff Belden, MD as project lead, to design and write an eBook that offers insights […]

Involution’s Health Axioms Now on Indiegogo

by Jon on September 24th, 2013
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Involution Studios is driven by a mission to create better lives and a better world. We’re part of a global movement to shift the health care system to one made up highly-specialized clinicians that work closely with self-monitoring, self-empowered patients and their families — aided by the continuous data driven by non-invasive personal diagnostics. Getting there will require equal parts […]

Involution Principal Discusses Design for Emerging Technology on O’Reilly Radar Podcast

by Jon on September 12th, 2013
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Involution Principal, Jon Follett, editor of the upcoming book “Designing for Emerging Technologies” recently spoke with Jenn Webb, O’Reilly Radar’s online managing editor and Mary Treseler, editorial strategist, on the O’Reilly Radar Podcast. In the podcast, the group discussed the challenges of understanding the disruptive power of emerging technologies — such as genomics, robotics, synthetic biology, and connected environments. […]

Invo’s Scott Sullivan Tells Designers: Learn to Code! in Fast Co.Design

by Danielle on May 29th, 2013
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“Have you ever been punched in the face?” That’s what Scott Sullivan, User Experience Designer at Involution, wants to know. In his Fast Co. feature article, Designers: Learn To Code! Here’s How to Start, Scott assures young designers learning to code isn’t that bad. “The fear of getting punched in the face holds you back from […]

Laying the foundation to the Internet of Things: Getting data out of your Arduino

by Eric on May 21st, 2013
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Many of us here at Invo have been using the Arduino quite a bit. From making claws for costumes to retail environment behavior to coffee electronics – it is incredible what you can do with these microcontrollers. However, there still is not a straightforward way of getting data out of your Arduino, onto the internet and accessible via […]

Bytes and Atoms Unveiled: Conference Speakers Announced

by Jon on April 29th, 2013
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For Immediate Release
BOSTON, MA – April 29, 2013 – Bytes and Atoms, a micro conference exploring the Internet of Things and the interaction between the physical and digital, today announced the speakers for its inaugural program.

Organized by software and emerging technologies design firm Involution Studios and agile development consulting firm Pivotal Labs, and sponsored by O’Reilly […]

The Digital Life Turns 50: Involution’s Design Podcast Re-launches [Updated]

by Jon on March 29th, 2013
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We’re celebrating the 50th episode of Involution’s podcast The Digital Life with a re-designed and re-imagined Web site — featuring complete transcripts of all the new episodes and back catalog and previous contributor search. The new Digital Life is live — ready to inform, entertain, and engage the digital design community worldwide.

The Digital Life online radio program […]

Involution’s hGraph featured in Wired and Health IT Buzz

by Jon on February 25th, 2013
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Involution’s hGraph, an open source health metrics visualization, was recently featured in Wired Magazine online, highlighted in the article, “How Restyling the Mundane Medical Record Could Improve Health Care.” The Wired spot discusses hGraph’s strong social component: By tracking the data for entire families hGraph illustrates how some conditions, like obesity and heart disease, can be affected by collective […]

Involution’s Design Axioms Applauded in The Designer’s Review of Books

by Jon on February 22nd, 2013
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Dominic Flask, Editor of The Designer’s Review of Books, recently reviewed Involution’s Design Axioms deck, created by Juhan Sonin, along with Luke Wroblewski, Andrei Herasimchuk, and Dirk Knemeyer. The deck features striking graphics, detailing sixteen foundational principles that outline the essential rules of interface design.

Design Axioms Deck

The Design Axioms deck serves as a recommended pathway for […]

uTest Launches App Analytics Tool Applause, Designed by Involution

by Jon on February 15th, 2013
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Involution client uTest has launched Applause, an analytics tool that offers clear, explicit data about what users truly feel about mobile apps. Applause enables app-owners to see how each version of their app measures up and the ability to compare their app to those of their competitors. Applause features sleek multi-version app graphs and a revolutionary rating scheme, […]

Invo Poster Featured in MassArt’s “Graphic Advocacy” Exhibit

by Jon on January 28th, 2013
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“Wake Up!” the poster created by Involution illustrator Sarah Kaiser and Creative Director Juhan Sonin is currently on display at MassArt’s Paine gallery. The exhibit, entitled “Graphic Advocacy: International Posters for the Digital Age 2001-2012″, has over 122 posters from artists in 32 countries. Each piece is ideological, political, and, as Mark Feeney writes in his Boston […]


by Jon on January 20th, 2013
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January 27-31, 2013
Metro Toronto Convention Center
Toronto, Canada

Interaction13, the annual conference of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) will feature three speakers from Involution Studios: (above from left to right) Juhan Sonin, Erik Dahl, and Scott Sullivan.

Building Emotional IQ with Laban Movement Analysis
Director of Design Strategy, Erik Dahl and […]

hGraph Selected for National Patient Record Redesign Showcase

by Jon on January 18th, 2013
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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), challenged designers across the United States to re-imagine the presentation of the medical record in order to create a better patient experience. The objective of the Health Design Challenge was to create a usable, beautiful medical record enabling patients to more easily […]

Involution Client GeneInsight Leads Genetic Testing Revolution

by Jon on December 12th, 2012
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The way in which patients and doctors make healthcare decisions — from choosing therapies to evaluating possible side-effects — is changing rapidly based on newly available genetic testing and analysis. Involution client GeneInsight, a subsidiary of Partners HealthCare is on the forefront of this revolution in personalized medicine.

Last week, Partners HealthCare was featured in a Boston Globe […]

MIT 2.009 Product Engineering Processes Prototype Launch Event

by Jon on December 5th, 2012
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2.009 Product Engineering Processes Prototype Launch Event
December 10, 2012
7:30 – 10:00 PM
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Kresge Auditorium
Cambridge, MA

On Monday, December 10, 2012, MIT’s 2.009 Product Engineering Processes class will launch eight new product prototypes focused on the theme, “Outdoors”. Product teams will demo prototypes to a broad audience made up […]

Rethinking the Patient Medical Record

by Jon on December 3rd, 2012
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The Health Design Challenge, sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), is encouraging the UX design community to rethink the presentation of the medical record in order to create a better patient experience. The objectives are to design a usable, beautiful medical record that […]

Design Axioms App Now Available at the iTunes Store

by Jon on November 21st, 2012
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Involution is pleased to announce a free, open source, iOS version of Design Axioms, which is now available on the iTunes app store for both iPhone and iPad.

Design Axioms iPhone app

The new digital version of the Design Axioms is easy to transport and use for brainstorming, group critiques, or other software design sessions.

Design Axioms on the iPad

About the Design […]

Studio Axioms at Refresh Boston

by Jon on November 7th, 2012
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Refresh Boston

Refresh Boston
November 27, 2012
Microsoft NERD Center
Cambridge, MA

Studio Axioms
When looking back on his life, Noel Coward famously commented, “Work was more fun than fun.” Great design studios provide a work opportunity that can be happy, rewarding, and even fun. But it isn’t easy: just calling yourself a design […]

Design Axioms at Harvard Business School

by Jon on November 1st, 2012
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Design Axioms
November 7, 2012
5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Harvard Business School
Cambridge, MA

Involution Studios is pleased to announce that Creative Director Juhan Sonin will be a featured lecturer at Harvard Business School’s Project Management 101 course on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, from 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM. In the HBS PM101 class, students learn […]

Involution Studios’ hGraph Selected as a 2012 MITX Interactive Awards Finalist

by Jon on October 19th, 2012
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For Immediate Release
BOSTON, MA – October 19, 2012 – Involution Studios today announced that hGraph, an open source system for visualizing personal health metrics, has been selected as a finalist in the Healthcare and Wellness category for the 17th Annual MITX Interactive Awards. Held annually by the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange, the Awards recognize excellence […]

Involution client Neumitra wins DEMO award for anti-stress product, Bandu

by Jon on October 10th, 2012
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Big things are happening for Involution client, Neumitra, a Boston-based health startup on a mission to free the world of stress, one person at a time. Last week, at DEMO Fall 2012 — the conference for emerging technologies held at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California — Neumitra launched Bandu, its ground-breaking product for stress monitoring […]

hGraph, designed by Involution, Places Second at the New England Health Datapalooza, Advances to National Competition

by Jon on October 4th, 2012
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Yesterday at the New England Health Datapalooza, held at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., judges Pierce Graham-Jones, Innovator in Residence at the US Department of Health and Human Services; John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Group; and Manu Tandon, CIO of the MA Department of HHS, selected hGraph, an open system for visualizing personal health […]

InsideTracker, Designed by Involution, Helps Olympian Win Two Silver Medals

by Jon on September 12th, 2012
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On the world stage of the 2012 London Olympic games, in today’s hyper-competitive athletic environment, there’s no doubt that any advantage, no matter how small, can make a difference.

InsideTracker software, created by Segterra and designed by Involution, provides data and analysis that many athletes have, up to this point, had access to only on the occasions when they […]

Get Your Design Axioms Card Deck Today

by Jon on September 5th, 2012
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We’re excited to announce the debut of our Design Axioms card deck, which encapsulates essential software design wisdom from industry luminaries including Andrei Herasimchuk, Luke Wroblewski, Dirk Knemeyer, and Juhan Sonin.

Four years in the making, the first card set has been published as a physical deck, available via Amazon, and as digital art […]

Designing Business Collaboration for a Knowledge Economy

by Jon on August 22nd, 2012
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The age of information is upon us, and much has been made of the great improvements to communication, collaboration, and business process efficiency as we transform from an industrial- to a knowledge-based economy. However, despite all the rapid technological changes of the past 20 years, we are still at the very beginnings of the knowledge work era. At the dawn […]

Understanding Our Virtual Connections

by Jon on August 15th, 2012
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One of the great challenges of knowledge work is in understanding how to integrate virtual tools into the oftentimes tricky realm of human communication and relationships. We take for granted that the constantly evolving toolset available to us is ultimately helpful to our productivity and ability to complete our day-to-day tasks. How did work ever get done without mobile phones […]

The University: A Catalyst for Boston’s Innovation Economy

by Jon on August 1st, 2012
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The university system is critical to the Innovation Economy in Boston. Not only do schools supply the region with well-trained creative class workers in fields like engineering, science, design, and architecture; they also serve as R&D labs, generating new technology research; and as catalysts for the marketplace of ideas that fuels entrepreneurialism and a growing ecosystem of start-up companies. In […]

Energy and Software

by Jon on July 23rd, 2012
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Energy is the industry that IT forgot — or at least until recently. While sectors as varied as finance and healthcare, entertainment and communications have roared ahead with digitization, automation, and analytics, the energy industry has not evolved as rapidly. Despite this fact, it’s clear that the future of energy lies in software. In both conservation and sustainability, software offers […]

Open Office Hours at Involution Studios Boston

by Jon on July 16th, 2012
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We’re excited to announce that we’ll be having Open Office Hours here at Involution Studios Boston, every Thursday from 4-6 pm, starting on July 19, 2012.

Involution has long been involved in the Boston UX community, and we’re thrilled to be joining the Open Office Hours movement, to share our design expertise with our colleagues and friends. Part of […]

Mobile, Content, and the Divergent Ecosystem

by Jon on July 12th, 2012
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Yesterday, at the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council’s Mobile Summit, panelists and audience members eagerly discussed and debated developing for the often volatile ecosystem of mobile. The summit general session, “Content is King” featured panelists Phil Costa, Director of Product Management at Brightcove; Jeff Moriarty, VP of Digital Products at the Boston Globe; and Sanjay Vakil, Director of Mobile Product at […]

InsideTracker Software, Designed by Involution, Provides Olympic Athletes with Bloodwork Analytics

by Jon on June 28th, 2012
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Involution client Segterra is doing its part to prepare US athletes for the upcoming 2012 Olympic Summer Games in London. Segterra’s innovative software product, Inside Tracker, is being used by champion track cyclist Sarah Hammer and triathletes Jarrod Shoemaker and Sarah Haskins to learn about nutritional deficiencies and excesses via bloodwork analytics and optimize and boost performance based […]

Microsoft Surface and the Unified User Experience

by Jon on June 18th, 2012
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Today, Microsoft fired a significant salvo in the war for a Unified User Experience, with the debut of its Surface tablet. Taking a page from the Apple playbook, Microsoft is creating both the hardware and software for the Surface, a strategy it once executed successfully, with the Xbox 360 gaming console; and twice not so successfully, with the Zune […]

The Software Revolution Will Be Televised

by Jon on June 6th, 2012
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Last year, Internet luminary and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen wrote a significant essay in the Wall Street Journal, outlining the many ways in which software has become absolutely vital to our world. Software allows us to extend our reach even further than we did before, automating processes, accelerating the rate of change, and providing the sinews between people and data. […]

Rethinking Work

by Jon on May 21st, 2012
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We’re at the very beginnings of a significant evolution in the way we work — not just in from a technical perspective, although that’s a significant driver — but in the culture and nature of work and organizational relationships. The way we work today is markedly different from the way our parents worked, and even more distant from the way […]

Health, Technology, and Design

by Jon on April 8th, 2012
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At the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center last Wednesday evening, software innovators came together for a series of presentations and conversation about the opportunity for technology and design to effect positive change in healthcare.

The program, “Linking Healthcare, Technology and Design”, explored aspects of the changing face of the industry, and how digital solutions could provide the […]

Nine Principles of Great Companies

by Jon on March 28th, 2012
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At Involution, as a part of our commitment to learning and growing as a company, we conduct semi-regular studio critiques. This kind of critique is important to our ongoing evolution as an organization and helps everyone, from leadership to staff, understand the broad vision and values of the studio. As a part of that ongoing discussion, we’re drafting a set […]

Boston is a Hub of Marketing Software, the Next Big Tech Sector

by Jon on March 17th, 2012
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A few hours ago GigaOm published an article declaring “Marketing is the next big money sector in technology”. In the first paragraph, the author, Ajay Agarwal of Bain Capital Ventures, sets up the future of the industry this way: “For the first time in history, businesses can leverage big data for the benefit of driving marketing insights. We are […]

Infovis Breakdown: Predicting Major League Baseball 2012

by Jon on March 16th, 2012
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Earlier this week, we released our Predicting Major League Baseball 2012 interactive information visualization with our picks for the playoffs this year. The visualization made its debut in the inaugural post on our recently launched channel on BostInno.

After the heartbreak of the Red Sox collapse last year, at Involution Studios we felt that, in order […]

What the iPad Retina Display Means for Designers

by Jon on March 7th, 2012
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Today Apple revealed the third generation iPad with its Retina screen, bringing the most powerful mobile visual display to market with a whopping 326 ppi in its 9.7 inch space. Print resolutions typically range from 300 – 1800 dpi, which means that Apple has effectively brought mobile computing into that same realm, a significant step to say the least. […]

Five Ways to Make Learning a Part of Your Company Culture

by Jon on March 2nd, 2012
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I don’t think there’s any question that the creative class jobs that drive our innovation economy — designers, engineers, scientists, architects, entrepreneurs, writers, etc. — are all positions that require constant learning and evolution. In a larger sense, our economy, the companies that survive and thrive, the types of jobs in demand, and the skill sets required to successfully compete […]

Online Privacy Needs Product Design

by Jon on March 1st, 2012
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In the new digital world, we are the sum of our trackable behavior. The web sites we read, the items we share, the products we buy, are all elements that contribute to our digital personas. Online marketers desperately want to collect our behavioral data so they can analyze our history, better target their offers, and maybe even predict our next […]

Internships and Apprenticeships at Involution

by Jon on February 24th, 2012
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At Involution Studios Boston, we’ve been lucky enough to design crazy, brain-bending, exciting software that changes the way humans work and play. Since 2004, we’ve been creating software for some of the biggest and best companies, not to mention over 100 different start-ups in various industries. Our alumni have worked for companies like Apple, Facebook, Adobe and IDEO. And we’re […]

Big Data in Boston

by Jon on February 16th, 2012
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The Mass Technology Leadership Council held its annual Big Data Summit yesterday at the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center in Cambridge, MA. The sold out event was attended by a broad cross-section of the Boston tech community with engineers, designers, venture capitalists and business managers all coming together to discuss the future of Big Data in […]

The New Frontiers of Interaction Design: Understanding Ourselves and Culture

by Jon on February 6th, 2012
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Last week, the IxDA’s Interaction12 conference in Dublin, Ireland brought together the professional interaction design community from around the globe for four days of inspiring talks and workshops.

Involution Studios was well represented with two of our leadership team speaking. Involution Founder, Dirk Knemeyer examined the complex, cross-disciplinary question of how people understand themselves and each other, in his […]

The UI is the Hero

by Jon on January 26th, 2012
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Is the age of ubiquitous computing is upon us? We may not be living yet in William Gibson’s plugged-in future, but there’s no doubt that we’re absolutely dependent on the digital realm. From tablets to smart phones to laptops to car navigation systems, we always seem to be connected. The digital life is everywhere we go, and software is […]

A 2012 Invo Preview

by Jon on January 5th, 2012
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Happy new year! Two thousand and twelve is going to be big here at Involution Studios. We’re excited, not only by the software we’re designing and building for our clients, but also by an internal project, that, after months of operating in stealth mode, is ready to have the wraps taken off. So, as the new year brings with it […]

Laptop Music, Kinected Hacking, and Supply Chain Design

by Jon on November 9th, 2011
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Here’s what we’re reading online, this week at Involution, on design, tech, and the digital life, in our links round up.

If You Make Sure You’re Kinected, the Xbox is on the Wall
Last week, Microsoft’s Kinect turned one year old, and the Redmond giant celebrated the “Kinect Effect” with a video highlighting future applications of the technology from […]

Software Design is a Team Sport

by Jon on November 4th, 2011
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I’m a big Boston sports nut. And, as cliched as the sports metaphor may be for discussions on teamwork, there are lessons to be learned from the collapse of the Red Sox, which was the worst in baseball history and has ongoing and transformative consequences for the organization. There were, of course, many reasons for the losing streak that took […]

On Open Work Spaces

by Jon on August 20th, 2011
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The space in which we work defines us, both as individuals and as teams. Sometimes we’re unaware of how important our office environment is, but the fact remains that it’s key to our every day mental health and our ability to perform. Our work space effects whether we’re able to get our work done and whether we enjoy doing it. […]

Pushing Pixels and Carving Bits

by Jon on July 28th, 2011
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At Involution, our software design methodology approximates that of the industrial design process: Designers take an overall, system wide view of the product, and are responsible for specifying, as much as possible, the final form and function. This means that, just as an industrial designer understands her materials, be they metal or silicon, so too must the software designer understand […]

Five Reasons to Sketch Your User Interface

by Jon on July 14th, 2011
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At Involution, when we design software, we draw upon a process akin to industrial design, where—after we engage in an initial product architecture to understand the feature grouping, flow, and functionality—the next step is often sketching.

If you haven’t done it before, sketching concepts for a software user experience may seem like a daunting task located in foreign territory: […]

Seven and Seven: A Look Back on Involution’s History

by Jon on July 7th, 2011
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Last week Involution Studios celebrated seven years in business. We’ve had a bunch of highs, a handful of lows, and a whole lot of fun in that time. We’ve had amazing employees, partners and clients, and even as another recession seems to be looming we are going strong and showing no signs of slowing down. Here are the seven most […]

Where are you, Edward Tufte?

by Jon on July 1st, 2011
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On Tuesday, Involution Studios Creative Director, Juhan Sonin challenged infovis guru Edward Tufte to engage more fully in the discussion regarding our nation’s greatest problems, including education, energy, finance, and health, among others, during a segment on The Digital Life podcast.

Edward Tufte was appointed by President Obama on March 5, 2010 to serve on the […]

From the Archives – Applied Empathy

by Jon on June 23rd, 2011
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At Involution, over the years, we’ve been lucky enough to count among our team a number of designers and strategists who are also industry thought leaders. In this new and regular blog feature, “From the Archives”, we’ll highlight articles from the past, written by our Invo colleagues that have stood the harsh test of Internet time and still have something […]

Check out our fresh Boston digs!

by Dirk on February 12th, 2011
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Involution Studios Boston is located in Arlington, MA on Mass. Ave., in what was formerly the city’s grand ballroom. When we took it over in late 2008 it was a pilates studio with wild green-and-blue paint and fixtures, along with mirrors lining the walls. To the discerning eye it was all potential.

Here is the evolution of our space over […]

Facebook Game Design is an embarrassment

by Dirk on February 9th, 2011
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After a conversation on The Digital Life with Brenda Brathwaite and Soren Johnson about “Social Game Design”, it became clear that I needed to get to know Facebook Games better and see if there was more there than I thought. So right after the show I signed up for about a dozen Facebook Games. I played all of them […]

Losing faith in “UX”

by Dirk on August 3rd, 2010
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I’ve been slowly backing away from the field of “user experience” for some years now. More and more, I’m beginning to think it is time that I turn my slow retreat into a full-fledged race to the hills. This evening Juhan pointed me to a terrifying article by renowned user experience thought leader Whitney Hess. Please do […]

App design: the shiny new toy for “web” and “user experience” designers

by Dirk on July 13th, 2010
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It is no surprise that web design companies are desperately trying to get into application design. Web design as a business is highly commodified with small margins and a crowded competitive landscape. Even the top early providers are watching their ability to get customers affordably and service them profitably become seriously compromised. Web design companies are scrambling for new opportunities. […]

System engineering should be integral to the design of your applications

by Dirk on December 28th, 2009
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Not much surprises me anymore. After more than a decade spent providing boutique services, followed by the last 6 or so years strictly in software, I’ve really earned the increase in grey hairs on my face and head. However, one thing I continue to find absolutely baffling is the way companies and designers often attempt to design their software from […]

Keep online surveys short

by Dirk on November 13th, 2009
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Online surveys are one of the most commonly-used feedback mechanisms for businesses. And it’s no wonder: they are cheap to create, deploy, tabulate, report and share. They provide a degree of insight into how customers think and feel about your company, products and/or services. While getting valuable and insightful results is much more likely when the survey is being administered […]

Why mobile is magical

by Dirk on October 27th, 2009
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Most of our customers are relatively sophisticated with technology. They either own tech start-ups or are in a role where they are involved in the software, website, IT, digital marketing or some other type of technology within their company. Not surprisingly many of them carry powerful mobile computing devices and are far ahead of the general population in their adoption […]

Your software is going to take longer than you think

by Dirk on October 20th, 2009
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Sorry to burst your bubble and scuttle your budgets of time and money. It’s true. I’ve seen it dozens of times: clients come to us saying something has to has to has to be shipped in 12 weeks. We tell them there is no way that can happen, no matter how much they pay us. They disagree and pay us […]

Adrift in a ubicomp world

by Dirk on October 12th, 2009
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It is generally accepted among the design intelligentsia that Apple is designing better software and hardware than pretty much everybody else in the core areas they choose to play. Yet there is one area where they have notably failed – if only by non-participation – yet stands as one of the most vital hardware solutions in the present and future: […]