Semiotics: It’s a sign!

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A structural engineer once told me that he would always win pictionary if he was teamed with another engineer. Structural engineers have a symbolic language of their own and use it, normally in the workplace, to communicate more accurately. To the onlooker it is all triangles, little circles and arrows. But to the trained eye they represent bridge spans with fixed supports under uniform loads. Similarly, electrical engineers use seemingly incomprehensible symbols to describe apparatus layout. Continue reading “Semiotics: It’s a sign!”

Using patterns to shape our world

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In the 1990s, Erich Gamma changed the way I thought about software engineering forever! Gamma visited the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne where I was a PhD student, in order to give a seminar on design patterns.

The idea of extracting a solution template from a piece of software to turn it into a pattern which can be reused, was to me, an exciting step forward in software engineering. Instead of reusing software from a library that needs to be maintained and ported as necessary, abstracting the solution and creating a pattern repository gives software engineers a toolbox of meta-level solutions.

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Card sort analysis using a spreadsheet

Following up from Digital Web Magazine and my card sort article, here is one way of analysing your results using a spreadsheet.
In the spreadsheet we need to set up two tables which will sit next to each other:

  • Table 1 stores the number of users and their cards.
  • Table 2 counts cards and identify patterns.

Download your own copy of the spreadsheet to tinker with, at

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