My 2009 work-highlight was the opportunity to work with the great people at the Toronto Public Library on their new faceted search interface. We tested the interface with over a dozen users, and then made recommendations based on the findings. Almost all of my work has surfaced into the current public beta which is shaping up to be one of the better library websites in North America! Seriously, look around.
As a search-obsessed UX designer, the best part of the project was not the size of the collection, but the richness of their metadata. Most items are described with media type, language, age level, owning branch, subject, author, and more.
TPL Web Team Manager Dara Renton and I recently gave a presentation at UX Show & Tell so we thought we’d post the presentation for people to see the thinking that went behind the current design. We couldn’t get permission from our volunteers to post their Silverback sessions online, but their participation proved invaluable in helping us prioritize the interface.
Best viewed full screen!
Thriving in Toronto year-round means keeping yourself comfortable and warm during the winter months. A few year years back I wrote about Body Winterization in Toronto describing my favourite (though elusive) socks, the J.B. Fields Icelandic. Made of 70% merino wool these socks are remarkably soft and warm even on the coldest of days.
Thanks to the magic of Google, I figured out that the Great Canadian Sox Company is located in Toronto on the northeastern edge of East York, so my brother and I took a trip to their outlet located in an industrial park on Waterman Avenue.
What a find! On sale were the Icelandics as well as the socks they produce for Sorel, L.L. Bean and others. It turns out that their flagship brand J.B. Field’s was founded in 1877 to make socks for the Canadian logging industry. It’s a shame their branding doesn’t really reflect the pedigree because these could be the next Canada Goose coat.
A decent pair of winter socks from MEC costs around $20. I walked out of there with 7 pairs of -30°C 70% merino wool socks (pictured above) for under $25. They were apparently seconds but I still haven’t found a flaw on them. Regular pairs are $8.00 or 3 pairs for $20.00.
Store is located at 25 Waterman Avenue open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm.
Last week I printed out the timetable of a TTC bus stop near me and was disappointed with the results. It took three pages and, shudder, was overloaded with white space. Here’s what it looks like:
Ideally the TTC can move to a vastly more efficient printed layout, but in the meantime a little CSS hack will do. Today I spent a few minutes looking at Greenwood Station – 31 Greenwood and have coded some CSS that can be appended to their print stylesheet.
- Removed the route diagram from the printed version. It consumes vertical space and is not readable as a thumbnail.
- Removed the “Next 3 scheduled buses” block. The full timetable is below, and once printed it’s obsolete.
- Removed inactive tabs (e.g. Saturday, Sunday, Monday) to avoid confusion.
- Set width of time containers to automatic to prevent wrapping
Here’s what it looks like:
And here’s the CSS code (please comment improvements!):
I moved to the Danforth area about a year and a half ago and am often waiting at Queen for the northbound 31 Greenwood bus. This is a problematic stop with northbound buses on either side of the street that also lacks a posted schedule for the primary line. Despite repeated requests to the TTC and even Councillor Giambrone over the past 18 months, I have been unable get a schedule posted for Route 31. I sense that I am perhaps not making myself clear, so I have drawn a frikkin’ schematic.
Route 31 is a peculiar stop because the northbound bus waits facing south on the west side of Greenwood, instead of facing north on the east. It does this because it makes the next two rights and a left to get back onto Greenwood. Unless it’s the alternate B line which runs for a few hours a day and appears on the more obvious east side of the street.
On many occasions I have had to inform (and startle) people because they waiting on the wrong side of the street. It boggles my mind that our city spends thousands on glass bus shelters, but cannot manage to equip these shelters with a basic schedule. TTC, please equip at least the main stops on your routes with information about those routes. Not to Deride the Rocket, but how are we to know The Better Way?