Monthly Archive for August, 2007

Visual Variables

I’ve been designing some new visualizations recently, and reading around the InfoVis literature for examples to analyse and best practices to follow. I’ve found myself returning again and again to a diagram in MacKinlay’s 1986 paper and various papers which follow it. So much so that I’ve reworked a version of the diagram and pinned it to the wall behind my desk for quick reference:

It shows a theoretical model for accuracy when performing reasoning tasks with an image. The model was developed empirically but for some comparisons and some analytical tasks experimentation has backed it up. I find it a handy thing to have when working out how visualizations and infographics are put together. And when I have some data that I’m designing an representation for, it helps me choose what visual variables to use.