Artistic Visualizations and Evaluations

September 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

The visualization of data allows for it’s exploration and understanding. It communicates insight about the data to others. (See Benefits of Visualization (Card et. al.).

The Gestalt Principles are theories on visual perception which can be utilized in the effective creation of visualizations. They consist of principles of:

  • Similarity
  • Proximity
  • Continuation Principle
  • Connectedness
  • Figure-Ground Relationship
  • Closure
  • Symmetry
  • Area


However, the use of such principles in information visualization is useless without evaluating it’s effect (positive or otherwise). Such evaluation can be done through interviews, qualitative / quantitative techniques, analytical inspection (observation, heuristic evaluation), empirical evaluation forms (usability tests (e.g. ‘Think Aloud’) which are usually done in the early stages of design). When a system is near completion, controlled experiments are often done to gain quantitative results through strict procedures.


Eye tracking can also be used for studies, in one particular study, useres were presented with different stimulai;

and their eye movements were used to discern how crossings affect eye movements and performance, the impact of crossings differing with crossing angle and size of graphs, and that people have geodesic-path tendency in searching for shortest paths.


The below diagram is also an interesting representation of where the graph visualisation research community is aiming for. I think it’s great that we’re developing theories on how users’ read graphs, but believe there should always be user test – feedback loop between the making of algorithms and the theories used.

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