Why you should care about your slides

Cartoon-like drawing of a woman standing next to a presentation.
Cartoon-like drawing of a woman standing next to a presentation.
Care about your slides! (Photo from Salesforce.)

For awhile now, I’ve been a stickler for aesthetically pleasing presentations. Fonts and font sizes must be consistent, headings and margins should be aligned across pages, and colors should stick to a theme. I will notice that one picture that’s shifted slightly off the center line and cringe internally. Maybe you think this is extreme, that this level of polished is not worth the time, or that what really matters is the content on the slides. I urge you to think twice about that. In the remainder of this piece, I’ll share some things I’ve learned recently in hopes of…


An image of a curb cut on the corner of a street. The sidewalk grades down to the street to allow for smooth crossing.
An image of a curb cut on the corner of a street. The sidewalk grades down to the street to allow for smooth crossing.

It was a beautiful day in Santa Barbara, California, and I was walking down to work listening to an episode of my favorite podcast 99% Invisible (I highly recommend). This episode talked about curb cuts–the ramps graded down on sidewalks to meet with the street. Here is yet another example of design that goes unnoticed by many. Little did I know that there was an extensive history behind this seemingly simple design that makes walking through the streets more accessible for those with disabilities and even those without.

In fact, the impact of this kind of design is so significant…


Exploring the big data world of wine.

The Motivation

In this blog post, we will go through several different data exploration methods using data on wine! We will show step by step code and explain our processes along the way. Before we started diving into the code, we posed a few questions for ourselves that we were hoping to answer about the wine dataset:

  1. Which countries have the most reviewed wine?
  2. Where are the world’s best wines from?
  3. Where does the priciest wine come from?
  4. Is there a correlation between wine price and points?
  5. What words describe the top 10 wine types?
  6. Can the description predict a feature of…


Using an LSTM model to generate poems.

The Motivation

Ever try to find the right words to describe how you are feeling? Want to profess your love to your significant other in a poem? Why don’t you just generate one based on thousands of well-known poems? This is what we attempted to do using a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) model.

What is a LSTM model?

An LSTM model has an artificial recurrent neural network (RNN) architecture. Since it is a recurrent network, it means that the model has feedback connections. Additionally, it can process entire sequences of data such as sentences or video. LSTM is often used…


Why design thinking should be taught in schools

Last spring, I was waitlisted for the Human-Centered Design (HCD) course offered at The Hive at The Claremont Colleges. I showed up to the first class hoping to show my strong desire to join. The first day, we were paired up and prompted to re-design the gift-giving experience for our partner–an exercise that came out of Stanford’s d.school.

In 75 minutes, we went through the whole design thinking cycle of empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. During the class, we were deeply engaged with our partners, learning more than one usually does with another peer on the first day of…


Each year the world produces an extravagant amount of material waste. In 2017, there was 141,200 tons of textiles and leather waste; 763,400 tons of plastic waste; and 676,800 tons of food waste, according to the National Environment Agency. Only 6% of the textile and leather waste, 6% of the plastic waste, and 16% of the food waste was recycled. The numbers are staggering.

What is a circular economy?

In our traditional linear economy, we make, use, and dispose of products. This means we’re continuously generating waste. Although recycling is a step in the right direction, more drastic change is necessary. …


It’s been a stressful week at school, and I need some ice cream. I open my freezer and pull out Ben and Jerry’s Half-Baked Ice Cream. No need to get a bowl; it’s nearly half empty so I use a spoon. With each spoonful, I taste the fairly traded ingredients, the absence of GMOs, the strict environmental standards, and the protest for social change–well, not literally. These ingredients are part of Ben and Jerry’s mission to practice corporate social responsibility (CSR). Ben and Jerry’s is not the only company that challenges the purpose of a business.

Years ago, Milton Friedman…


Our constant interactions with the designed world often go unnoticed. We arrive at work or school safely in the morning because we followed the lines on the ground and stopped at the red lights. Often, there is an aspect of coercion to design that works to control human behavior.

Take doors, for example. There are some doors that require a sign to operate. On the other hand, there are some poorly placed doors that send you unconscious signals to do the opposite of what you need to do to open them. We’ve all done it: you push when you’re supposed…

Emma Sheridan

Lover of design thinking, human-centered design, tech + iced caramel lattes.

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