So Much Information, So Little Screen Space: Assessing the usability of hierarchical data visualizations in Tableau
Authors: R Jordan Hinson, Amelia Kinsella, Ruth Propper
Abstract: The purpose of this usability study was to determine the most effective of three ways to display hierarchical data using the interactive data visualization software, Tableau. Often, data visualizations contain large amounts of important information that users need to be able to manipulate and interpret. Viewing hierarchical data in an interactive data visualization software like Tableau has the advantage of allowing dynamic selection of the hierarchical level of detail of results displayed. This enables improved understanding and exploration of the material. However, individuals using such software do not necessarily have knowledge of a dataset and/or the data visualization software, resulting in an inability to fully investigate data relationships. It is therefore critical that research be conducted to determine which data presentation styles promote intuitive navigation within the data visualization. A within-subjects usability study was conducted to examine the most effective of three ways to display hierarchical data within a designated area of a Tableau visualization. Three distinct visualizations of hierarchical data were randomly shown to participants. Each visualization was bordered by identical contextual information with the centrally placed hierarchical data varying. One condition showed the data relying on filters. A second condition showed the data relying on users to expand and collapse the level of detail with scrolling. A third condition showed the data as a drill-down chart that only expands the level of detail selected by the user. Metrics of user-response time, the accuracy of responses to assessment questions, the subjective rank of usability for each data visualization, and open-ended user feedback were examined. Results are discussed.
Keywords: Usability, Tableau, Data Visualization
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