Heuristics for Supporting Cooperative Dashboard Design

Vidya Setlur, Michael Correll, Arvind Satyanarayan, Melanie Tory

Room: 103

2023-10-25T03:48:00ZGMT-0600Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
Successes and failures of cooperative dashboard design throughout the five stages of an analytical conversation: initiation, grounding, turn taking, repair & refinement, and close.
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Gricean maxims, interactive visualization, conversation initiation, grounding, turn-taking, repair and refinement.


Dashboards are no longer mere static displays of metrics; through functionality such as interaction and storytelling, they have evolved to support analytic and communicative goals like monitoring and reporting. Existing dashboard design guidelines, however, are often unable to account for this expanded scope as they largely focus on best practices for visual design. In contrast, we frame dashboard design as facilitating an analytical conversation: a cooperative, interactive experience where a user may interact with, reason about, or freely query the underlying data. By drawing on established principles of conversational flow and communication, we define the concept of a cooperative dashboard as one that enables a fruitful and productive analytical conversation, and derive a set of 39 dashboard design heuristics to support effective analytical conversations. To assess the utility of this framing, we asked 52 computer science and engineering graduate students to apply our heuristics to critique and design dashboards as part of an ungraded, opt-in homework assignment. Feedback from participants demonstrates that our heuristics surface new reasons dashboards may fail, and encourage a more fluid, supportive, and responsive style of dashboard design. Our approach suggests several compelling directions for future work, including dashboard authoring tools that better anticipate conversational turn-taking, repair, and refinement and extending cooperative principles to other analytical workflows.