Exploring Design Decisions
for Effective Information Visualization

Jason Dykes, Aidan Slingsby, Jo Wood
City University London

THIS IS A HALF-DAY TUTORIAL consisting of two 90 minute sessions.
14:00-15:30 and 16:15-17:45 on Tuesday 13th October 2009
Beginner – no previous experience expected or required.
To help participants compare and understand design parameters in information visualization and establish best practice through the visualization of real datasets.
The tutorial is suitable for anyone working with complex datasets who wishes to learn about the design process and to improve their data visualization skills and knowledge by considering the effects of design decisions.
Having successfully participated in this tutorial you will be able to ...
  • design visualization solutions from an informed perspective
  • evaluate the effects that design decisions have on information visualization
  • select colour schemes that are appropriate to visualization contexts
  • select layouts that are appropriate to visualization contexts
  • describe the effects of animated transitions between design alternatives
  • use visualization to explore hierarchical data sets
  • create an informed and effective hierarchical representation of your data

Using interactive software and sample data sets we will explore issues relating to colour, layout, symbolization and animation in turn.

We will do this by introducing some key concepts and then asking you develop your own visualization designs of some sample datasets.

You will then informally evaluate your visualization designs, use them to find patterns in the data and identify research questions that they might address.

Interactively exploring the design space by varying a range of visual parameters will draw your attention to the impact of design decisions on the information visualization process and develop your knowledge of design considerations and good practice for effective information visualization design.


You will need to bring a notebook computer with adequate battery life to participate in the sessions.

It should be capable of running Java applications and have Internet access and a Web browser as we will be downloading the following applications and data.

Be sure to bring a pen or pencil ... you’ll need to jot down notes on the handouts.

  1. 14:00 – 14:45 Introduction, Design and Tutorial Resources (handout 1)
  2. 14:45 – 15:30 Colour and Symbolisation (handout 2)
  3. 16:15 – 17:00 Layout and Animation (handout 3)
  4. 17:00 – 17:45 Design Effects and Data Interpretation (handout 4)
Dr. Jason Dykes, Dr. Aidan Slingsby & Dr. Jo Wood
City University London
updated: 16/10/09