Responsive Visualization Design for Mobile Devices


A chapter in Mobile Data Visualization. Edited By Bongshin Lee, Raimund Dachselt, Petra Isenberg, Eun Kyoung Choe.

Chapter abstract: With the proliferation of mobile devices, people can now interact with data visualization on smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. Although these new devices offer the opportunity to visualize data in mobile contexts, most visualization techniques used in practice were originally designed with desktop displays in mind. These desktop-oriented techniques are often ill-suited for mobile devices due to differences and restrictions in display size, aspect ratio, and interaction capabilities. Furthermore, mobile usage is contingent upon many contextual aspects, such as one-handed interaction, unstable movement, or noisy surroundings. The combination of these factors require that data visualization design must be responsive to device constraints and dynamic usage contexts. This chapter is about responsive data visualization design for mobile devices. We use the term responsive to describe aspects of visualization that adapt automatically to various factors, such as changed device characteristics, environment, usage context, data, or user requirements. Given the theme of this book, we focus on mobile devices, although it should be noted that responsive visualization design is also applicable to non-mobile devices, such as PC displays of varying size, tabletop displays, and large wall- or projector-based displays. We discuss aspects of responsive mobile data visualization as well as its relation to existing visualization concepts in Section 2.1, before contrasting it to responsive web design in Section 2.2. Section 2.3 summarizes the types of change that visualization must respond to and how they can be sensed on mobile devices. We then review ten responsive visualization design strategies in Section 2.4, including adaptations of scale, layout, and visual encoding as well as attentional cues and specific interactions. Finally, Section 2.5 describes possible future research directions pertaining to responsive visualization design for mobile devices and beyond.

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Tom Horak
Wolfgang Aigner
Matthew Brehmer
Alark Joshi
Christian Tominski
Publication Date: 
Thursday, December 23, 2021
Publication Information: 
Mobile Data Visualization (CRC Press, 2021)