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Title: User-Centered Evaluation of Visual Analytics

Abstract

Visual analytics systems are becoming very popular. More domains now use interactive visualizations to analyze the ever-increasing amount and heterogeneity of data. More novel visualizations are being developed for more tasks and users. We need to ensure that these systems can be evaluated to determine that they are both useful and usable. A user-centered evaluation for visual analytics needs to be developed for these systems. While many of the typical human-computer interaction (HCI) evaluation methodologies can be applied as is, others will need modification. Additionally, new functionality in visual analytics systems needs new evaluation methodologies. There is a difference between usability evaluations and user-centered evaluations. Usability looks at the efficiency, effectiveness, and user satisfaction of users carrying out tasks with software applications. User-centered evaluation looks more specifically at the utility provided to the users by the software. This is reflected in the evaluations done and in the metrics used. In the visual analytics domain this is very challenging as users are most likely experts in a particular domain, the tasks they do are often not well defined, the software they use needs to support large amounts of different kinds of data, and often the tasks last for months. These difficultiesmore » are discussed more in the section on User-centered Evaluation. Our goal is to provide a discussion of user-centered evaluation practices for visual analytics, including existing practices that can be carried out and new methodologies and metrics that need to be developed and agreed upon by the visual analytics community. The material provided here should be of use for both researchers and practitioners in the field of visual analytics. Researchers and practitioners in HCI and interested in visual analytics will find this information useful as well as a discussion on changes that need to be made to current HCI practices to make them more suitable to visual analytics. A history of analysis and analysis techniques and problems is provided as well as an introduction to user-centered evaluation and various evaluation techniques for readers from different disciplines. The understanding of these techniques is imperative if we wish to support analysis in the visual analytics software we develop. Currently the evaluations that are conducted and published for visual analytics software are very informal and consist mainly of comments from users or potential users. Our goal is to help researchers in visual analytics to conduct more formal user-centered evaluations. While these are time-consuming and expensive to carryout, the outcomes of these studies will have a defining impact on the field of visual analytics and help point the direction for future features and visualizations to incorporate. While many researchers view work in user-centered evaluation as a less-than-exciting area to work, the opposite is true. First of all, the goal is user-centered evaluation is to help visual analytics software developers, researchers, and designers improve their solutions and discover creative ways to better accommodate their users. Working with the users is extremely rewarding as well. While we use the term “users” in almost all situations there are a wide variety of users that all need to be accommodated. Moreover, the domains that use visual analytics are varied and expanding. Just understanding the complexities of a number of these domains is exciting. Researchers are trying out different visualizations and interactions as well. And of course, the size and variety of data are expanding rapidly. User-centered evaluation in this context is rapidly changing. There are no standard processes and metrics and thus those of us working on user-centered evaluation must be creative in our work with both the users and with the researchers and developers.« less

Authors:
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1416693
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-129067
DOE Contract Number:
AC05-76RL01830
Resource Type:
Book
Resource Relation:
Related Information: 5:1-71
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
visual analytics; intelligence analysis; sensemaking; usability; utility; user-centered evaluation

Citation Formats

Scholtz, Jean C. User-Centered Evaluation of Visual Analytics. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.2200/S00797ED1V01Y201709VIS009.
Scholtz, Jean C. User-Centered Evaluation of Visual Analytics. United States. doi:10.2200/S00797ED1V01Y201709VIS009.
Scholtz, Jean C. Sun . "User-Centered Evaluation of Visual Analytics". United States. doi:10.2200/S00797ED1V01Y201709VIS009.
@article{osti_1416693,
title = {User-Centered Evaluation of Visual Analytics},
author = {Scholtz, Jean C.},
abstractNote = {Visual analytics systems are becoming very popular. More domains now use interactive visualizations to analyze the ever-increasing amount and heterogeneity of data. More novel visualizations are being developed for more tasks and users. We need to ensure that these systems can be evaluated to determine that they are both useful and usable. A user-centered evaluation for visual analytics needs to be developed for these systems. While many of the typical human-computer interaction (HCI) evaluation methodologies can be applied as is, others will need modification. Additionally, new functionality in visual analytics systems needs new evaluation methodologies. There is a difference between usability evaluations and user-centered evaluations. Usability looks at the efficiency, effectiveness, and user satisfaction of users carrying out tasks with software applications. User-centered evaluation looks more specifically at the utility provided to the users by the software. This is reflected in the evaluations done and in the metrics used. In the visual analytics domain this is very challenging as users are most likely experts in a particular domain, the tasks they do are often not well defined, the software they use needs to support large amounts of different kinds of data, and often the tasks last for months. These difficulties are discussed more in the section on User-centered Evaluation. Our goal is to provide a discussion of user-centered evaluation practices for visual analytics, including existing practices that can be carried out and new methodologies and metrics that need to be developed and agreed upon by the visual analytics community. The material provided here should be of use for both researchers and practitioners in the field of visual analytics. Researchers and practitioners in HCI and interested in visual analytics will find this information useful as well as a discussion on changes that need to be made to current HCI practices to make them more suitable to visual analytics. A history of analysis and analysis techniques and problems is provided as well as an introduction to user-centered evaluation and various evaluation techniques for readers from different disciplines. The understanding of these techniques is imperative if we wish to support analysis in the visual analytics software we develop. Currently the evaluations that are conducted and published for visual analytics software are very informal and consist mainly of comments from users or potential users. Our goal is to help researchers in visual analytics to conduct more formal user-centered evaluations. While these are time-consuming and expensive to carryout, the outcomes of these studies will have a defining impact on the field of visual analytics and help point the direction for future features and visualizations to incorporate. While many researchers view work in user-centered evaluation as a less-than-exciting area to work, the opposite is true. First of all, the goal is user-centered evaluation is to help visual analytics software developers, researchers, and designers improve their solutions and discover creative ways to better accommodate their users. Working with the users is extremely rewarding as well. While we use the term “users” in almost all situations there are a wide variety of users that all need to be accommodated. Moreover, the domains that use visual analytics are varied and expanding. Just understanding the complexities of a number of these domains is exciting. Researchers are trying out different visualizations and interactions as well. And of course, the size and variety of data are expanding rapidly. User-centered evaluation in this context is rapidly changing. There are no standard processes and metrics and thus those of us working on user-centered evaluation must be creative in our work with both the users and with the researchers and developers.},
doi = {10.2200/S00797ED1V01Y201709VIS009},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

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