Ben Schneiderman & Visual Interfaces

by Luke Wroblewski January 11, 2004

Ben Schneiderman visited us recently. Between our meetings and the two talks he gave, I was impressed with the emphasis Ben placed on the visual aspects of HCI: “The eye is the best way for the brain to understand the world around us.”

Ben’s talk at the department of Computer Science (archived in Windows Media format) was on User Interfaces for Information Visualization:

Human perceptual skills are remarkable, but largely underutilized by current graphical user interfaces. The next generation of animated GUIs and visual data mining tools can provide users with remarkable capabilities if designers follow the Visual Information-Seeking Mantra: Overview first, zoom and filter, then details-on-demand.

Ben’s Visual Information-Seeking Mantra reminds me of Edward Tufte’s information design principles of macro and micro information. Macro, of course, is the overview (the big picture that provides context), and micro is the details. An effective information design and information interface works on both levels.