Investigating whether people identify how suitable a data visualization is for answering specific analysis questions
ResumoChoosing the type of chart to represent data can go beyond the combination of data type and analysis task. Various books and websites provide catalogs of data visualizations to help choose the correct chart for certain situations. However, they often do not consider the analyst's goal, as expressed by certain analysis questions. In this work, we studied how participants assess the suitability of certain data visualizations for answering specific analysis questions before and after being exposed to related guides that mimic what is often found in those catalogs. We also investigated whether they could assess suggestions (both textual and visual) to change the charts to better answer the analysis questions or recommend suitable alternative modifications to improve them. We discovered that, for basic charts, the participants could identify whether the visualization is suitable to answer an analysis question. However, when they find it unsuitable, they cannot always recommend changes to improve them. When presented with alternative visualizations, the participants seemed to provide assessments in line with the literature more often than when presented with textual descriptions of recommended changes, but the difference was not significant. Our results showed that guidelines, either in a textual or visual format, may not help novices effectively relate analysis questions to specific chart properties. The guidelines also failed to help novices improve charts to better answer specific questions. They can even confuse them and lead them to make mistakes they might not have made otherwise.
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