Reflections on QuestVis: A Visualization System for an Environmental Sustainability Model

Tamara Munzner, Aaron Barsky, Matt Williams.
Scientific Visualization: Interactions, Features, Metaphors. Dagstuhl Follow-Ups 2, 2011, Chapter 17, p 240--259.
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We present lessons learned from the iterative design of QuestVis, a visualization interface for the QUEST environmental sustainability model. The QUEST model predicts the effects of policy choices in the present using scenarios of future outcomes that consist of several hundred indicators. QuestVis treats this information as a high-dimensional dataset, and shows the relationship between input choices and output indicators using linked views and a compact multilevel browser for indicator values. A first prototype also featured an overview of the space of all possible scenarios based on dimensionality reduction, but this representation was deemed to be be inappropriate for a target audience of people unfamiliar with data analysis. A second prototype with a considerably simplified and streamlined interface was created that supported comparison between multiple scenarios using a flexible approach to aggregation. However, QuestVis was not deployed because of a mismatch between the design goals of the project and the true needs of the target user community, who did not need to carry out detailed analysis of the high-dimensional dataset. We discuss this breakdown in the context of a nested model for visualization design and evaluation.


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Last modified: Sun Oct 30 15:48:20 PDT 2011