Design Practice and Design Cognition

In this line of research, our aim is to understand how designers operate in worlds of practice, how they think while doing so, and ways to improve discourse and knowledge sharing between researchers and practitioners. We are mostly focused on data visualization designers, although we have done some investigation of UX designers as well. This work is being supported by an NSF CAREER grant (CAREER: Supporting Data Visualization Design Practice; 5/1/2022-4/30/2027). This current aim builds on work we done over the past decade, focusing on design processes, theories, and concepts in multiple domains that make use of interactive computing tools. With collaborators, we have developed a set of interrelated design frameworks, synthesizing ideas from multiple disciplines (e.g., human-computer interaction, cognitive and learning sciences, design theory) to provide conceptual support for designers of interactive visual tools. These individual frameworks were developed to provide support for interaction design with user cognition in mind—e.g., focusing on interactivity of visualizations and cognitive effects, and on fundamental patterns for encoding information visually. 

Since developing these design frameworks, we have shifted our efforts to studying design practice as it happens rather than as researchers imagine it happens. We have surveyed and interviewed several practitioners, focusing on the processes and methods they use in their design practice, and how they think while doing their design work. This effort led to several articles that articulated which methods and concepts visualization designers use, what their design processes look like in the world, how they fixate on ideas in their process, and how they make decisions while moving through their process. We have extended this work into the realm of social media, investigating how design knowledge—e.g., the meaning of terms related to visualization minimalism—are negotiated within the world of practice. Building on the previous survey of methods and principles that practitioners use, we have started exploring the various types of design knowledge that practitioners use, and how they relate to design knowledge in the visualization literature (e.g., the role of design guidelines in practice). 

In this research, we use several different methods of inquiry, including observational methods, having practitioners self-report data on their real-world practice (e.g., through diaries and design probes), and semi-structured interview techniques.  This ongoing line of research brings together theory-driven and practice-driven perspectives on design, with the aim of generating actionable guidance for research, practice, and education.

Related Publications

2023

Shukla, Prakash; Parsons, Paul

How visualization designers’ assumptions can mislead in communicating with visualizations Conference

6th annual Workshop on Visualization Communication (VisComm ’23) at IEEE VIS, 2023.

BibTeX

Parsons, Paul

Preparing Future Data Visualization Designers for Professional Practice Conference

IEEE VIS Workshop on Visualization Education, Literacy, and Activities (EduVis ’23), 2023.

Links | BibTeX

Parsons, Paul

Design Cognition in Data Visualization Book Chapter

In: Chen, Min; Szafir, Danielle Albers; Borgo, Rita; Padilla, Lace; Edwards, Darren J.; Fisher, Brian (Ed.): vol. Visualization Psychology, Springer, 2023.

Links | BibTeX

2022

Parsons, Paul; Shukla, Prakash

Considering the Role of Guidelines in Visualization Design Practice Workshop

4th IEEE Workshop on Visualization Guidelines in Research, Design, and Education (VisGuides ’22), 2022.

Links | BibTeX

Shukla, Prakash; Parsons, Paul

Negotiating visualization minimalism: a preliminary analysis of Twitter conversations Workshop

in IEEE VIS Workshop on Visualization for Communication (VisComm ’22), 2022.

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2021

Parsons, Paul

Understanding Data Visualization Design Practice Journal Article

In: IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (Proc. VIS ’21), vol. 28, no. 1, 2021.

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Parsons, Paul; Shukla, Prakash; Park, Chorong

Fixation and Creativity in Data Visualization Design: Experiences and Perspectives of Practitioners Conference

IEEE VIS Conference, Short Papers, 2021.

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2020

Parsons, Paul

How do Visualization Designers Think? Design Cognition as a Core Aspect of Visualization Psychology Workshop

IEEE VIS 2020 Workshop on Visualization Psychology (VisPsych), 2020.

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Parsons, Paul; Shukla, Prakash

Data Visualization Practitioners’ Perspectives on Chartjunk Conference

IEEE Visualization Conference (VIS), short papers, 2020.

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Parsons, Paul; Gray, Colin M.; Baigelenov, Ali; Carr, Ian

Design Judgment in Data Visualization Practice Conference

IEEE Visualization Conference (VIS), short papers, 2020.

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Parsons, Paul; Hung, Ya-Hsin; Baigelenov, Ali; Schrank, Connor

What Design Methods do DataVis Practitioners Know and Use? Conference

Extended Abstracts of the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI LBW), ACM, Honolulu, HI, 2020.

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2018

Parsons, Paul; Hung, Ya-Hsin; Baigelenov, Ali

Toward an Analysis of Practitioner-Oriented Resources for Visualization Design Conference

IEEE VIS ’18: Proceedings of the 2017 IEEE Conference on Information Visualization, Poster Abstracts, Berlin, Germany, 2018.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

2016

Sedig, Kamran; Parsons, Paul

Design of Visualizations for Human-Information Interaction: A Pattern-Based Framework Journal Article

In: Synthesis Lectures on Visualization, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 1–185, 2016, ISSN: 2159-516X.

Links | BibTeX