Proceedings: GI 2011

Improving revisitation in graphs through static spatial features

Sohaib Ghani, Niklas Elmqvist

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2011: St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, 25 - 27 May 2011, 175-182

  • BibTex

    author = {Ghani, Sohaib and Elmqvist, Niklas},
    title = {Improving revisitation in graphs through static spatial features},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2011},
    series = {GI 2011},
    year = {2011},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {978-1-4503-0693-5},
    location = {St. John{\textquoteright}s, Newfoundland, Canada},
    pages = {175--182},
    numpages = {8},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {Toronto, Ontario, Canada},


People generally remember locations in visual spaces with respect to spatial features and landmarks. Geographical maps provide many spatial features and hence are easy to remember. However, graphs are often visualized as node-link diagrams with few spatial features. We evaluate whether adding static spatial features to node-link diagrams will help in graph revisitation. We discuss three strategies for embellishing a graph and evaluate each in a user study. In our first study, we evaluate how to best add background features to a graph. In the second, we encode position using node size and color. In the third and final study, we take the best techniques from the first and second study, as well as shapes added to the graph as virtual landmarks, to find the best combination of spatial features for graph revisitation. We discuss the user study results and give our recommendations for design of graph visualization software.