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ThinkMind // International Journal On Advances in Software, volume 10, numbers 3 and 4, 2017 // View article soft_v10_n34_2017_19


Visualizations for Hierarchical Data: Analyzing User Behavior and Performance with Eye Tracking

Authors:
Nicholas H. Müller
Benny Liebold
Daniel Pietschmann
Peter Ohler
Paul Rosenthal

Keywords: User Study; Hierarchy Visualization; Perception; Eye-tracking; Eye-gaze Patterns

Abstract:
Visualizing hierarchical structures is of great importance in many economic and scientific applications. Many different approaches have been developed and enhanced in the last decades. Each of them claims specific advantages over competing methods, usually referring to visual or structural properties. Although several user studies investigated the usefulness of specific approaches, for practitioners it often remains unclear what the practical advantages of the approaches are and in which contexts they are useful. In our user study, we systematically investigated the value of three frequently used visualization types for the intuitive understanding of hierarchical data: treemap, icicle plot, and nodelink. We measured user performance in terms of correctness and time and tracked eye movements for each participant. The results regarding the user performance revealed that nodelink and icicle plot performed well, whereas treemap only exceeded chance level in one easy task. Still, the analysis of eyetracking measures suggests that treemaps draw visual attention better to relevant elements. However, treemap visualizations built up less influential visual gaze patterns, compared to nodelinks and icicle plots. Finally, implications for facilitating human intuition and problem solving strategies are discussed.

Pages: 385 to 396

Copyright: Copyright (c) to authors, 2017. Used with permission.

Publication date: December 31, 2017

Published in: journal

ISSN: 1942-2628

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