4a: Viz analysis

4 levels of validation

4 levels of validation: A framework

Domain - Data - Idiom - Tech

Visualization Analysis and Design, chapter 4, Munzner

Threats to validity

  • Wrong problem: You've misunderstood the needs
  • Wrong abstraction: You're showing the wrong thing.
  • Wrong idiom: The way you show doesn't work
  • Wrong algorithm: The code is too slow


Knowledge of an area that lets you frame problems from a human-centric interaction (HCI) design perspective.

This is similar to UX design thinking, especially the needfinding / problem definition portions.

In short, questions to validate why we are tackling the problems from the domain itself (Empathize and Define).

Nielson Normal Group, adapted from Standford school of design thinking

UX design thinking tools

Tools to help with user empathy / problem specification / prioritization

  • Needfinding tools: Observations, interviews, surveys
  • Personas: User audience
  • Task analysis: Flowcharts and lists
  • User stories: End user informal description of feature sets
  • Mindmaps: Clustering needs and prioritization

Data / task abstraction

What is the data like? Why are we doing the visualization?

i.e. Understanding the problem and the datasets.

Visual encoding / interaction

How are we designing the visualization?

i.e. Exploring how to best tackle the task - ideating and prototyping

Algorithmn / Technology

Execution of the visualization.

What technology stack are you using? Web? Desktop?

Are you using any 3rd party platform? Frontend stack? Backend stack?

i.e. Materializing the visualization

Top-down or bottom up?

Typically either:

  • Designing a viz to solve a problem (top down)
  • Refining an existing solution (bottom-up)

Validation approaches

Validation approaches

Very similar to how UX design thinking is iterated upon in a project.

More UX design thinking tools

Tools to help with user evaluation / testing

Case studies

Stories and experiences

Domain case studies

Maritime Maps / Transport Rail / Real Estate

Data case studies

Cybersecurity / Covid

Idiom case studies

Area to Boxplot / Event visualization

Tech case studies

Fashion start-up / Geospatial start-up

Project walkthrough

Covid network graphs


Chi-Loong | V/R