Visualizing Progress

June 14, 2011by

Here are some visualizations I’ve been experimenting with to figure out a way to mark weekly progress on creative projects. The Do the Work Community is getting ready to launch, where participants will be doing their work in an atmosphere of “assistance and accountability” with others.

One of the design challenges for making a community like this work is finding ways to show others how things are going, and let them know what you’re experiencing in your battle against the Resistance. Thinking this through it occurred to me early on that visualization tools might be a good way to communicate some of this. A few problems there though:

  1. Data is not the driving force behind the kind of creative work being done in the DTWCommunity.
  2. The learning curve for getting comfortable with creating visualizations can be immense.
  3. People need to easily be able to add visualizations to their updates without spending a lot of time creating it.

After spending some time with a variety of options I have landed on Google’s open API for Charts and Graphs. It offers a variety of fairly easy to create options, and generates charts embeddable with a simple ‘img’ tag. And instead of having do-the-workers learn an entire program for creating their own visualizations, we can just pass along a simple bit of code that can be easily edited to indicate changes from week to week.

At this point I have worked with two structures: (1) Which chapter am I on in the Do the Work continuum? and (2) Who has won the battle this week, me or the Resistance? Since they are not created specifically for visualizing qualitative data, these are not ideal pictures of Do the Work progress. But I do think they get the job done, at least until something better is made.

Chapter

Progress Meter

To display the progress meter, copy and paste this code (edit the number “30” in “chd=t:30&…” towards the end to indicate where you are on a scale of 1-100. This will tell the “work” arrow where to point.



Progress Bar

Doing the Work


Doing the Work

The Battle

Me vs. the Resistance

My Do the Work Pie

Who's eating who for lunch?


Update


Here are two ways you can visualize your progress in your weekly updates:

Progress Meter

To display the progress meter, copy and paste the following code into your post where you want it to be displayed. Be sure you are in the HTML and not the Visual tab of the editor in WordPress! To change the position of the arrow just edit the number “30″ in “…chd=t:30&…” toward the end to indicate where you are on a scale of 1-100.



Changing 30 to 90, for instance, renders the image like this:

The Battle

Who's eating who for lunch?

To display the Who’s Eating Who pie, copy and paste this code into your post where you want it to be displayed. Again: Be sure you are in the HTML and not the Visual tab of the editor in WordPress! To change the relevant sections of the pie, just edit the “20,80” at “…chd=t:20,80&…” toward the middle, again on a scale of 1-100, to indicate the score in your battle royale against the Resistance. If you want you can also edit the title by changing the words (but leave in the ‘+’ sign) “Who’s+eating+who+for+lunch”.


Who's eating who for lunch?

Here’s what it looks like with the tables turned: Resistance – 70, Me – 30:

Who's eating who for lunch?

We certainly hope none of us have weeks like this, but when we do we can trust the Do the Work Community’s got our backs, whether we need assistance, a gentle nudge, or just a plain old shove in the right direction.

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