Visual Prompts and Graphical Design: A Framework for Exploring the Design Space of 2-D Charts and Graphs

Vibhu O. Mittal

Graphical presentations can be very effective in communicating large datasets and patterns, trends and relationships in them. Charts and graphs used in reporting data usually tend to highlight certain aspects and suppress others. In fact, a recent study of several hundred annual reports found that more than 30% of charts in these reports were designed to facilitate inferences favorable to the companies while hindering others. Unfortunately, many of the techniques used to achieve these effects may not be obvious to the average user. One solution to this problem is to make design choices explicit to the user. This paper presents a data analysis interface that educates users by enabling them to explore the visualization space and modifying chart design parameters. This interface is based on an analysis of a corpus of charts and graphs and uses knowledge about a variety of techniques for emphasizing specific trends and/or values shown in 2-D charts and graphs.

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