Design: Explorations in Interactive Visualization
20 October 2016
Based on the feedback from my Emotion Tracking Experiment, I've continued iteration on visual outputs for recorded emotion data.
One of the needs for a patient- (or user-) focused system is the ability of the system to valuably function in the present moment and increase its richness with continual use. This means, a user should be able to glean something from each individual emotion state recorded as well as profit from viewing emotions in a larger timeframe.
Small multiples visualizations seemed to be the most obvious first step to try. Small multiple designs answers directly [the question: Compared to what?] by visually enforcing comparison of changes, of the differences among objects, of the scope of alternatives (Envisioning Information, 67).
The first few iterations utilize simple graphic variables like shape, size, color and orientation. Both of these give each parameter its own shape and size it based on the recorded value from 1 to 5. The color is defined by the Valence (pleasant/unpleasant) parameter. In this way, the user can see potential patterns in weeks or months through Valence as well as begin to identify the similar shapes of certain emotions (see July 13-15 with Cynicism as the recorded emotion):
This next visualization is also a small multiple variation but with more complex graphical variables: motion, blur and opacity. Again, the circles are colored based on their Valence, but the pulse based on their Arousal value. Their edges become more/less sharp based on their Control value and become more/less opaque based on their Conduciveness. This gives the individual emotions a much richer visual quality and perhaps begins to express the felt quality of emotion as we experience it:
A key learning from the Emotion Tracking Experiment was that the participants typically found System C, a bar chart, the most usable when they were looking for patterns in their emotion data. Because of this, I developed a continuous area chart that could be modified to a stacked or stream version. A user could also zoom in/out in order to look at specific days or weeks. This visualization is valuable because it is the clearest representation of the flow of recorded emotion parameters:
Another of the key takeaways from the Emotion Tracking Experiment was: the gap between tracking emotion data and visualizing it is too big. My next steps from here will be developing a tracking tool that minimizes that gap by producing a visualization immediately as a user records each emotion parameter.