Edited by Herre van Oostendorp
[Information Design Journal 14:1] 2006
► pp. 22–34
Using graphics to support comprehension of dynamic information in texts
Little is known about the influence of micro-level design factors on the effectiveness with which static and animated graphics support comprehension of dynamic information. Graphics are frequently used as adjuncts to written and spoken text with the aim of addressing any potential ambiguities that may arise during interpretation. When used to depict information about temporal change, graphics can present the situational dynamics with varying degrees of explicitness. With static graphics, viewer interpretation is reliant on some degree of inference; whereas with animated graphics, the dynamics can be presented in a direct, analog form. The effectiveness of static and animated graphics for portraying dynamic subject matter appears to be closely related to fine-grained aspects of the interaction between the graphic and its user that may be missed if a largely intuitive approach to design is adopted. Selected findings from empirical research into the effects of content, cues, background knowledge and attentional influences are discussed as a basis for suggesting a more principled approach to the design of adjunct graphics.