Bottom-up vs. Top-down Visualization Authoring Trade-offs in Efficiency, Understanding, Freedom and Creativity with InfoVis Tools


We present a qualitative study comparing people's visualization processes using two visualization tools: One promoting a top-down approach to visualization construction (Tableau Desktop) and one implementing a bottom-up constructive visualization approach (iVoLVER). Our results show how the two approaches influence: 1) the visualization process, 2) decisions on the visualization design, 3) the feeling of control and authorship, and 4) the willingness to explore alternative designs. We discuss the complex trade-offs between the two approaches and outline considerations for designing better visualization tools.

Study Material

Intro to InfoVis Video:

Datasets and Tasks:

Oil dataset

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Movies dataset

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Version of iVoLVER used in this study:






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Gonzalo Gabriel Méndez

Gonzalo is a PhD student at the University of St Andrews. He holds a master degree in Computer Science from the Free University of Brussels and completed his bachelor in Computer Science at the Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL) in Guayaquil, Ecuador. His previous research includes education and learning technologies. Gonzalo is currently focused on the design, development and evaluation of visualization tools to support visual data analysis and extraction.

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Uta Hinrichs

Dr. Uta Hinrichs joined SACHI as a lecturer in June 2015, after working as a Research Fellow at the group. She received her PhD in Computer Science from the University of Calgary, in Canada, where she was with the InnoVis Group. Her research is at the intersection of visualization, HCI, design, the humanities, and art with a focus on designing and studying the use and experience of interactive systems that facilitate the exploration and analysis of data collections from several perspectives.

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Miguel A. Nacenta

Dr. Miguel Nacenta has been a University of St Andrews lecturer since May 2011, where he cofounded the SACHI group. Prior to this he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Interactions Lab, University of Calgary. He holds an electrical engineering degree from the Technical University of Madrid and a doctorate from the University of Saskatchewan. His research is focused on developing input and output technology to extend human capabilities.