Effects of Graph Embellishments on the Perception of System States in Mobile Monitoring Tasks

  • Frode Eika Sandnes
  • Kjetil Dyrgrav
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8683)


Monitoring of critical systems such as large server parks require suitable visualization tools that draw the attention to essential aspects of system state to ensure continuous operation. Moreover, administration is increasingly performed using mobile devices giving operators more freedom. Mobile device form factors limit the amount of data that can be displayed. This study explores if visual embellishments in data visualizations improve the perception of system states for mobile administrators. The RRDtool time series data visualizer, which is deployed by the Munin monitoring tool, is used as basis and compared to an experimental monitoring tool that employs visual embellishment enhancements. Talk aloud system monitoring sessions were employed with 24 IT-professionals both with and without Munin experience. The results show that the embellishments results in significantly shorter time to interpret the views while they do not significantly help determine the general characteristics of the views. Previous experience with Munin had limited effect on performance. One implications of this work is that embellishments can help focus attention towards important state changes in mobile visualizations.


system administration embellishments mobile monitoring 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Kim, S.K., Suh, S.M., Jang, G.S., et al.: Empirical research on an ecological interface design for improving situation awareness of operators in an advanced control room. Nuclear Engineering and Design 253, 226–237 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Rozzi, S., Amaldi, P., Wong, W., Field, B.: Operational potential for 3D displays in air traffic control. In: ECCE 2007: Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics, pp. 179–183. ACM Press (2007)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Pinder, S.D., Davies, T.C.: Interface Design for an Aircraft Thrust and Braking. In: Proceedings of OZCHI 2006, pp. 103–110. ACM Press (2006)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Haigh, D., Adams, W.: Why 64 bit computers in the control room. Computing & Control Engineering Journal 7(6), 277–280 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Few, S.: Information Dashboard Design. O’Reilly Media (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chittaro, L.: Visualizing information on mobile devices. Computer 39, 40–45 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Tufte, E.R.: The Visual Display of Quanitative Information. Graphics Press LLC (2009)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    McCandless, D.: Visual Miscellaneum. Harper Design (2012)Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Holmes, N.: Designer’s Guide to Creating Charts and Diagrams. Watson-Guptill (1991)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Tufte, R.R.: Envisioning Information. Graphics Press LLC (1990)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Few, S.: Show Me the Numbers - Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten. Analytics Press (2004)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Abdullah, R., Hubner, R.: Pictograms, Icons and Signs. Thames and Hudson, 2nd edn. (2006)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Healey, C.G.: Choosing effective colours for data visualization. In: Proceedings of the Seventh Annual IEEE Visualization 1996, pp. 263–270. IEEE CS Press (1996)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Bateman, S., Mandryk, R.L., Gutwin, C., Genest, A., McDine, S., Brooks, C.: Useful junk?: the effects of visual embellishment on comprehension and memorability of charts. In: Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, CHI 2010, pp. 2573–2582. ACM Press (2010)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Borgo, R., Abdul-Rahman, A., Mohamed, F., Grant, P.W., Reppa, I., Floridi, L., Chen, M.: An Empirical Study on Using Visual Embellishments in Visualization. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics 18(12), 2759–2768 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Plaisant, C.: The challenge of information visualization evaluation. In: Proceedings of the Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces, AVI 2004, pp. 109–116. ACM Press (2004)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frode Eika Sandnes
    • 1
  • Kjetil Dyrgrav
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Information Technology, Faculty of Technology, Art and DesignOslo and Akershus University College of Applied SciencesNorway

Personalised recommendations