We investigate the discovery of the functionality of an interactive visualization designed for the general public. While interactive visualizations are increasingly available for public use, we still know little about how the general public investigates and discovers what they can do with these visualizations. Understanding the discovery process allows to develop better interfaces for the general public and make data more accessible to them. To unpack this problem, we analyze the results of a lab study where participants discovered the functionality of a connected set of visualizations of public energy data. We collected eye tracking data and interaction logs, as well as video and audio recordings. By integrating this quantitative and qualitative data, we extract five exploration strategies employed by participants to discover the functionality in these interactive visualizations. These exploration strategies illuminate possible design directions for future interactive visualizations.


author={T. Blascheck, L. MacDonald Vermeulen, J. Vermeulen, C. Perin, W. Willett, T. Ertl, and S. Carpendale},
journal={IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics},
title={Exploration Strategies for Discovery of Interactivity in Visualizations},


A preview video will be added here.

Supplemental Material

The following link provides a complete collection of all AOI timelines for all participants and each view.

Study Data

Pre-study questionnaire

Contains participant demographic information.

Post-study questionnaire

Contains participant subjective preferences.

Quantitative Data

Contains the quantitative results of the study.


Tanja Blascheck
is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Analysis and Visualization (Aviz) group at Inria Saclay in France. She is especially interested in combining eye movement data with interaction logs and think-aloud data to evaluate interactive visual analytics systems and creating novel visual analysis methods for these data sources. She received a PhD in computer science from the University of Stuttgart.

Lindsay MacDonald Vermeulen
is a Post-doctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Visualization and Interaction (CAVI) at the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University in Denmark. As a researcher and designer, she uses a research-creation approach to discover ways in which various social theories can be used to design and critique the use of interactive technologies in public spaces. She has a PhD in Computational Media Design from the University of Calgary.

Jo Vermeulen
is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Aarhus University. His research interests lie at the intersection of Human–Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing and Information Visualization. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the InnoVis group at the University of Calgary.

Charles Perin
is a Lecturer in the Department of Computer Science at City, University of London, and part of the giCentre research group. He specializes in information visualization and human computer interaction, conducting research on designing and studying new interactions for visualizations and on understanding how people may make use of and interact with visualizations in their everyday lives. Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the InnoVis group at the University of Calgary.

Wesley Willett
is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the University of Calgary where he holds a Canada Research Chair in Visual Analytics. His interests span information visualization, social computing, new media, and human computer interaction, and his research focuses on pairing data and interactivity to support collaboration, learning, and discovery. At the UofC he leads the Data Experience Lab and is a member of the Computational Media Design program.

Thomas Ertl
received an MSc degree in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a PhD degree in theoretical astrophysics from the University of Tuebingen. He is a full professor of computer science at the University of Stuttgart, heading a research group in the Visualization and Interactive Systems Institute (VIS) and in the Visualization Research Center (VISUS). His research interests include visualization, computer graphics, and human computer interaction. He is a senior member of IEEE.

Sheelagh Carpendale
is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Calgary, where she holds a Canada Research Chair in Information Visualization and the NSERC/AITF/SMART Industrial Research Chair in Interactive Technologies. She leads the InnoVis Research Group and co-directs the Interactions Lab. Her research focuses on combining information visualization, visual analytics and human computer interaction to better support everyday practices of people.

Please spread the word if you find this study interesting