Dec 2010 - Two Journal Papers: Visualisation and Usability

Along with Julie Doyle and Brian O'Mullane we have had our paper on "Usability by Proxy – Killing 2-N Birds with One Stone?" accepted to the Journal of Usability Studies. A controversial paper we look forward to its publication stimulating follow on research and debate.

Usability testing is a critical part of the design process for applications, which can require many iterations of testing with, often-times, many different groups of users. As such, the cost of testing is typically significantly high. In this article we propose a new UEM to address this problem, which we call Usability by Proxy. Usability by Proxy involves studying usability measures with a cohort at one level of expertise or ability to identify the expected values at the next level of expertise or ability. In this article, we begin the process of evaluating the effectiveness of this method through a usability study of the BioMOBIUS™ biomedical research platform, an application with intended usage by both biomedical engineers and clinicians. We ask whether testing usability with each specific user group is beneficial in identifying additional significant usability problems, or whether the costs in terms of time and resources outweigh these potential benefits

Along with Michael Farrugia we had had our paper on "Effective temporal graph layout: a comparative study of animation versus static display methods" accepted to the Journal of Information Visulisation. Again, this is a paper which turns some conventional wisdom in dynamic display on its head, in a small scale study followed up with a larger online study.  Again, we look forward to this paper stimulate follow on work and the realisation of new forms of dynamic information display.

Graph drawing algorithms have classically addressed the layout of static graphs. However, the need to draw evolving or dynamic graphs has brought into question many of the assumptions, conventions and layout methods designed to date. For example, social scientists studying evolving social networks have created a demand for visual representations of graphs changing over time. Two common approaches to represent temporal information in graphs include animation of the network and use of static snapshots of the network at di erent points in time. Here we report on two experiments, one in a laboratory environment and another using an asynchronous remote web based platform, Mechanical Turk, to compare the e ciency of animated displays versus static displays. Four tasks are studied with each visual representation, two characterise overview level information presentation, and two characterise micro level analytical tasks. The results of this study indicate that static representations are generally more e ective particularly in terms to time performance, when compared to fully animated movie representations of dynamic networks.

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