Stop looking at the data. Look at your users.

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Trust me, I know what I’m doing

I used to be a developer. Oldskool. When we had to solve a problem, we’d dive in head first. Nothing but code. Code code code. We knew what we were doing. We knew what people wanted. Right?

Today, that’s pretty much unimaginable (except here and there, but here and there probably aren’t doing good business). UX (User Experience) design has changed the way we look at solving (digital) problems. We involve the user. First!

I spent 10 years as a developer (2003–2013). I only saw user involvement twice. My first experience was at Monumental Games, UK. We were developing MotoGP 09/10 for Xbox and PlayStation. Now, with game development, things get complex quickly. And you need a QA team to find the thousands of bugs that naturally occur in an unfinished game (I’m not saying this can’t be partially improved). The second case was at iChoosr, Belgium. We rented one of those UX places: one-way mirrored glass, microphones and cameras, screen recording, eye-tracking, the works! …

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Slack needs no introduction. It’s the new generation’s IRC, but private, and user friendly. And perfect for business! (and more.. fun fact: our group of friends became closer again thanks to Slack).

It allows you to customize it through multiple add-ons, such as the essential tableflip add-on, or the roll bot.

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It also flips words, not just tables

There is one feature that sounds so standard you’d assume it’s probably hidden in a menu somewhere but you never bothered to look for it: “Read receipts”.

But a lot of people did search for it. And the reason I’m writing this post is that I’m indirectly involved in this 5 year discussion that started with this tweet in…

This must have been my favorite project during my time at academia.

The League of Legends and Counter-strike: Global Offensive dashboards in action! Read on to learn more.

My PhD was funded through multiple (European and smaller) projects, on topics such as Learning Analytics, Digital Humanities, and Unemployment. And they were interesting: I designed data visualizations on tabletops, desktop, and mobile, I researched the user’s perception and experience… all fun and games.

But no, not games.

I’ve always had a soft spot for games. I moved abroad for two years (and had my wife give up a great job) just so I could live the dream and be a game developer (a story for another time perhaps). …


Sven Charleer, PhD

Freelance Dataviz Experience Designer/Adviser. For hire! More at

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