Design Principles for Visual Communication

Maneesh Agrawala, Wilmot Li, Floraine Berthouzoz


Design principles connect the visual design of a visualization with the viewer’s perception and cognition of the underlying information the visualization is meant to convey. Identifying and formulating good design principles often requires analyzing the best hand-designed visualizations, examining prior research on the perception and cognition of visualizations, and, when necessary, conducting user studies into how visual techniques affect perception and cognition. Given a set of design rules and quantitative evaluation criteria, we can use procedural techniques and/or energy optimization to build automated visualization-design systems.

Hand-designed cutaway and exploded-view illustrations (left) design the cuts and explosions to emphasize the shape of the missing geometry and spatial relationships among parts. our system incorporates such principles to generate interactive cutaway and exploded- view illustrations (middle, right).

Research Paper

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Supplementary Materials

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Design Principles for Visual Communication
Communications of the ACM, April 2011, 54 (4), pp. 60-69.