Last Sunday, I attended an interesting session rather a discussion panel by Marian Steinbach and Konstantin Weiss at UXCamp Europe on the topic Does Information Visualization help in Fukushima? The major things under discussion was ‘How the current visualization lack in usability?’, ‘Difficulty in understanding the visualization’, ‘Radiation units used were confusing’, ‘How these visualizations helped/not helped in making decisions’ and so on. But I wanted to ask a question to the designers who already did the visualizations and those who going to do the better visualizations; to understand the purpose of such exercise.
Before getting into the question, I wanted to give you a small prologue. As designers we should understand the users; for whom we are designing the product. I this case, the target audience of the visualizations. For me there are three kinds of people:
- The Citizens Living in Japan: These people live in Japan. They have their families, land, apartments… there. For them it is almost impossible to think about ‘leaving Japan’. The Japanese goverment has to support them in case of any emergencies. In simple word they are under sole protection of the Japanese Government. They can’t do much on their own. Any alarm, real or false creates panic. Which can lead to another disaster of its own on.
- The Expats: These are the people I say if any signs of danger, can get out of the country. The major thing they need to sacrifice for their safety is their ‘tie’, can be emotional, monetory, any other ties with Japan. In short they are the people that can afford to leave the country.
- The Outside World: The rest of the world (like me and most you), who need these visualizations or facts just to be in a state ‘being informed’. For them, not much decision or actions should be taken after knowing Fukushima’s state.
So the question I want to ask the designers, when they say they are going to make a better visualization – for which of the above users are you going to design?