Facebook’s former chief technology officer is joining Twitter’s board


Twitter's newest board member once belonged to the C-suite of its much bigger competitor.

The social network announced Tuesday that Bret Taylor, former Facebook chief technology officer and CEO of productivity software startup Quip, will join its board of directors as its ninth member. 

Taylor, who is also credited with co-creating Google Maps before joining Facebook, offers a product and engineering know-how the board largely lacks at the moment.

"Bret brings to our Board a great mind for consumer products and technologies that will be invaluable to the company as we execute our plans for 2016 and beyond," said Twitter's executive chairman, Omid Kordestani, in a press release statement. Read more...

More about Business, Twitter, and Facebook

Football fan wins Facebook challenge with his boss, gets to watch Wales play


A Welsh football fan got to see his national team play the semifinals at Euro 2016 in France after winning a tongue-in-cheek Facebook challenge with his American boss. 

San Francisco-based Matt Trotman, 28, decided to travel to France after Wales unexpectedly qualified for the knockout stages of the European tournament. 

After the team beat Northern Ireland, he asked his manager at Real Staffing, a recruitment consultancy firm, if he could stay an extra week to see Wales - Belgium. 

The Dragons' historic victory against Belgium put Trotman into a dilemma: head back or watch the team play against Portugal?  Read more...

More about Facebook, Wales Football, Euro 2016, Wales, and Watercooler

How to Pick the Perfect Color Combination for Your Data Visualization


Choosing any color scheme -- whether for graphics, websites, brands, etc. -- is a challenge in and of itself. That choice of colors sets the mood for anything and everything you create.

When it comes to data visualization, color is especially important. The color scheme sets the tone of the imagery and each color serves to represent a unique piece of information.

The colors you use in your data visualizations represent more than just one idea. The color scheme you choose has the power to display the type of data you're showing, its relationship, the differences between categories, and more.

This post will take you through the process of choosing the perfect color combination for your next data visualization -- from understanding your data to finding the right color tool.

How to Pick the Perfect Color Combination for Your Data Visualization

Is Your Data Sequential or Qualitative?

The first step when choosing a color scheme for your data visualization is understanding the data that you’re working with. There are three main categories that matter when choosing color schemes for data: sequential, diverging, and qualitative color schemes.

Sequential color schemes are those schemes that are used to organize quantitative data from high to low using a gradient effect. With quantitative data, you typically want to show a progression rather than a contrast. Using a gradient-based color scheme allows you to show this progression without causing any confusion.


Diverging color schemes allow you to highlight the middle range/extremes of quantitative data by using two contrasting hues on the extremes and a lighter tinted mixture to highlight the middle range.


Qualitative color schemes are used to highlight -- you guessed it -- qualitative categories. With qualitative data, you typically want to create a lot of contrast, which means using different hues to represent each of your data points.


Note: The images above are from Color Brewer 2.0 -- a data visualization color tool designed for working with data mapping. Check it out for your next data map visualization or for grabbing pre-made color schemes to use based on the sequential, diverging, and qualitative models.

How Many Unique Hues Do You Need to Use?

Now that you’ve determined which kind of display you want to use, it’s time to determine the number of hues you need to use.

Your hues are the unique colors (like red or blue) in their purest form (without any tinting or shading). Using unique hues is what creates contrast. In data visualization, creating contrast is highly important because it tells the viewer that the contrasting colors are comparative data points. Contrasting colors suggest that the data points are categorical, not correlated, showing you the difference between them rather than the relationship of progression.

Keep in mind that it's possible to use both a sequential and qualitative color scheme in the same visualization. And if this is the case, you’ll need to build a scheme that uses both gradients and unique hues.

The Role of Brightness in Color Selection

One very important tip for creating and finding color schemes for you data visualizations concerns understanding and utilizing the brilliance of colors for a purpose.

In the two pie charts below, notice the brightness of the colors used. On the left pie chart, you can see that there are four main hues used and four tints of each hue. This might signify a relationship between the hue and the tints, or it may just be used to draw attention to some sections of the data over the others.

Pie Charts Brightness

On the right pie chart, all of the eight hues used have the same brightness. None have more white or black added them to create a shade or a tint, which ultimately creates a balanced, contrasting aesthetic.

Shading and brightness is incredibly important to consider when creating data visualizations because it can be easy to skew the interpretation of your data by drawing attention to some data points over others.

For qualitative data, unless you’re trying to point out one specific data point’s significance, try to use equally bright hues with contrasting colors to display your data.

For sequential quantitative data, shading is important because you’re likely using a gradient. Gradients are made up of different shades and tints of a hue to show the progression of one hue from light to dark -- much like the progression of the data from high to low.

What Tools Can You Use to Find the Perfect Color Combination?

When it comes to finding the perfect color scheme for your data visualizations, I highly recommend finding a scheme that’s already out there. This isn't to say that you don't need to have a strong grasp on basics of color selection, though -- even existing color schemes will need to be customized to the data you're using. In other words, it's still important that you know your stuff.

Let's check out a few tools that'll help you get started ...

1) Colorpicker for Data

A fairly simple tool, Colorpicker let’s you hold one color in place while you drag the other locator around to find a multi-hued, gradient-based color scheme. Although this tool is limited in nature, I like that it gives you the option to visualize your color scheme on a map to show you what the scheme looks like in practice.


2) Color Hunt

If you’re just looking for premade color schemes to browse through, Color Hunt is the tool for you. This website is devoted to just color schemes, allowing you to easily gain inspiration and uncover HEX codes.

A caveat, however, is that each of the schemes are limited to four colors. If you’re data visualization requires more hues than four, this may not be the tool for you.


3) Designspiration.net

One of my personal favorite sites for design work, be it data visualization or otherwise, is Designspiration.net. Not only does Designspiration give you thousands of graphics to look through for inspiration, but it also allows you to sort through designs by color.

This is a great tool to use for your data visualization (even if the representations aren’t data-based) because it shows you what colors look like in contrast to one another. The color-sort tool also gives you the HEX codes ready to access, making it really easy to put together a combination that suits your needs.


4) FlatUIColorpicker.com

As a part of Designmodo’s Free User Interface toolkit, they created a tool to help you uncover colors to use in your design process. Although these colors aren’t necessarily part of premade schemes, they are really great for showing you bright, vibrant colors used for user interface design. You can easily browse through their color lists and create your own color schemes using the color picker.


5) Adobe Color CC

A classic tool for designers using Adobe products, Adobe Color CC allows you to create your own color schemes using the mathematical model-based color schemes (monochromatic, analogous, triadic, complementary, etc.). Adobe Color CC also has a great browser section you can use to find premade color schemes.

What If You Still Can't Find What You Need?

What if you decide you’re really looking for a color scheme that isn’t already out there? What do you do?

Creating a color scheme for data visualizations from scratch can be especially difficult because the colors you use have to either show vast contrast or natural progressions.

A great way to find inspiration for these types of color schemes is to draw on your surroundings. This could be a colorful photo, a mural, a sunset, or anything in nature --- you name it. If you look around to find color schemes that appeal to you in your physical surroundings, you can use this to create a color scheme for the virtual.

If you have a good eye, you may even be able to create a color scheme this way by trial and error. However, it's more likely that you’ll need to use a tool like Adobe Capture CC or Chroma by Softpress to snap a picture and grab the colors from the picture to use in your designs.


When creating data visualizations, the most important part of choosing the right color scheme comes down to understanding your data.

With so many different tools and premade color schemes out there, the hardest part isn’t actually finding the right colors; it’s knowing how to use those colors to display the information in the best way possible.

Now that you know how to find your color schemes, go put your newfound knowledge to work.

How do you choose color schemes for your data visualizations? Share your tips below.

free guide to data visualization

Do You Have a Clutter Problem? [Flowchart]


Have you ever looked around you -- at your desk, your room, your car, your garage -- and realized that the clutter has gotten out of control?

Don't worry, we all have those moments.

Everyone has a unique relationship with their "stuff." I, for example, have a drawer full of youth soccer jerseys I just can't seem to part with. (I swear I'm going to make a T-shirt quilt out of them someday!) For a friend of mine, it's mugs. She has like six of them on her desk at work. Who needs six mugs?

And yet, I know plenty of people who are really good at "spring cleaning" -- i.e., clearing out their unnecessary stuff in spontaneous purges. Sometimes, I wish I were brave enough to set them loose on my stuff to see what I could get rid of if I wasn't so darn sentimental.

That makes me what the folks at QuickQuid call a "sentimental clutterer." There are a few other types, including the folks who binge shop (who can resist a good sale?), those whose living spaces are filled with books, papers, and schoolwork, and so on.

What type of "clutterer" are you, and how is it affecting your life and work? If you’ve ever wondered where you might fall on the spectrum, take the flowchart quiz below from QuickQuid. It'll help you identify your relationship with your stuff, and give you some quick tips for how to live a more balanced lifestyle.


free productivity tips

6 Important Questions to Ask Before Your Agency Grows


Many agency leaders think the path to success is through growth. Grow bigger, grow faster, and don't look back. 

But do they have the right business practices in place to actually achieve this? And are they prepared for the inevitable changes that occur as a company gets larger?

6 Questions to Ask Before Your Agency Grows 

1) How do you want to grow?

What do you want your agency to look like in a few years? There are two main approaches to growth, and they look very different.

For one type of firm, you can grow through increased sales -- or growing by volume. You bring on lots of clients, and hire more people to service those clients. Client accounts will most likely be smaller, and the firm will be more concerned with productivity and the profitability of projects.

You can also grow through the size of your accounts, taking on fewer clients and focusing on longer engagements and less tactical or project-based work. For this type of growth to occur, the agency needs to be committed to a strong positioning as well as be able to showcase its value to obtain more revenue from clients. The agency may only need to win a few key accounts each year to replace leaving clients.

2) Are your current hiring practices in line with your future agency?

As you grow, your agency changes. Your clients' needs evolve. And you need more people to manage, train, and lead different teams. While some might rely on hiring for the role when they reach that size, most owners want to develop leadership skills in the people who have been with them when the team could easily fit in one room for a meeting. A key external hire -- someone with a specific skill set and experience -- can benefit the agency's growth; however, you'll have a hard time retaining people in the long-run if you fail to create a path of advancement for your current employees.

That means that you need to begin developing a bench of future leaders, and that requires a different approach to hiring and training. In the past, you might have simply been concerned about whether or not the candidate can do the job or be trained to complete the work. Now, you need to consider other qualities in top performers, such as emotional intelligence, interest in long-term career growth and management, and if the person has skills that challenge the team. You're looking for someone who will add to the overall talent of the team, rather than simply fit into a vacant seat.

3) How will you attract the right type of clients?

When you're just starting out, your agency could thrive on word-of-mouth, referrals, and projects from local companies. But if you want to grow, you'll need to tap a new group of prospects -- and do so in a sustainable way.

And it means you need to think differently about your company. Why would someone located 1,000 miles away want to work with your agency? What facts would make a prospect say, "I only want to work with your firm"? What do you need to change about the way you market your agency? Or do you need to actually start building your brand?

4) What does your sales process look like?

A lot of time is wasted on lunch meetings, calls with "prospects" who simply want to learn a few marketing tips, and proposals that never even reach a decision-maker.

This wasted time could be better spent with prospects that actually want to work with your agency and that your agency wants to work with -- you know you can provide value to the client, the account will be profitable, and your team members will enjoy working with the client.

But without a sales process, it's easy to get distracted by this prospect or that project. Without a goal, you'll always be running towards a finish line, yet the line will keep moving.

By defining your sales process with steps and processes for qualifying clients, prospecting, closing, and upselling, you'll be able to more quickly and efficiently grow.

5) How will your role change?

As the company grows, many agency owners struggle with the fact that they can't be everywhere and do everything. In the beginning, they were involved in every client account, approved all the creative, tracked financials, and made the final decision for all hires.

This isn't possible as your agency grows -- leaders have to make themselves irrelevant. And you need to take some time to figure out if this is really what you want. Do you want to be able to scale your influence on a larger team and client base? Or do you more enjoy the day-to-day management and involvement in your clients' accounts? These are two different types of businesses, and it's worth considering what type of company you actually want to build, rather than growing for growth's sake.

6) Is your approach to creating work repeatable and consistent?

Finally, to scale you need to create, document, and train people on your processes. Without a way to create and deliver work on time and profitably, you can't scale. To retain clients, you can't miss deadlines or deliver poor quality work. New employees need to be properly trained and onboarded to deliver a consistent experience to clients. While it might be fun to "figure things out as you go," it doesn't lead to creating a growing and stable company. 


Five companies considered buying LinkedIn

microsoft linkedin A new SEC filing posted Friday gives more clarity about what led up to Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn for over $26 billion. And they prove that Microsoft wasn’t the only prospective buyer. It shows that the talks between LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella began on February 16 of this year, just 12 days after the earnings debacle where LinkedIn shares plummeted. And… Read More

Google talks up its self-driving cars’ cyclist-detection algorithms

google_bike_vis1 Today might be conspicuous in the annals of autonomous vehicles for a more serious reason, but another month is over and Google has issued its self-driving car report for June. In it are some interesting details about the system’s ability to detect and avoid cyclists. Read More

The silver lining of Google’s diversity efforts

google logo Google has had a big week around diversity. The company gifted a $2.8 million office space inside its New York City building to Black Girls Code, appointed Roger Ferguson, an African-American finance executive, to its board of directors, and released its latest diversity report. Most of this was good news. Having a space inside Google’s office could potentially give Black Girls Code… Read More

Facebook Messenger has more than 11,000 bots


Facebook just moved one step closer toward making its bot ambitions a reality.

Just months after introducing the first bots for Facebook Messenger at F8, the social network now counts more than 11,000 bots on its platform, the company announced. The milestone comes alongside some major improvements to how the bots work inside of Messenger.

The updates add more functionality — like the ability to use GIFs and other media with bots — and more streamlined features that will address many of the bots' early usability problems. 

A new quick reply feature, for example, will surface suggested responses based on your conversation, which should help guard against the ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ responses many encountered with the initial wave of Messenger bots.  Read more...

More about Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Social Media, Apps And Software, and Tech

Facebook may be considering taking humans out of Trending Topics


Facebook's Trending Topics has been a major source of controversy in recent months because of allegations that some of its editors had been downplaying conservative news outlets.

The revelation that humans were involved in selecting what subjects and media outlets showed up in the section caught some by surprise. Those who watch Facebook closely knew that there was a human element to the system, but the company had seemed to be trying to downplay that as much as possible.

This recent history is particularly interesting in regards to a test that Facebook is running around Trending topics. Read more...

More about Trending Topics, Facebook, Business, Media, and Apps Software
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