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Cartographic Design Matters : A Comparison of Thematic Polygon Design

Kiik, Andreas; Nyström, Marcus LU and Harrie, Lars LU (2017) In Cartographic Journal 54(1). p.24-35
Abstract
The number of web services providing cartographic data is increasing. A main challenge is to enable a user to combine these services, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a cartographic one. One common use case for these services is to create mashups based on thematic polygons on top of background maps. In this study we compare four cartographic designs of thematic polygons: only boundaries, transparencies, hatches and icons. The aim of the comparison is to investigate whether the designs are good for identifying the extent of the polygons and if the design disturbs the reading of the background map. The comparison is based on an eye-tracking study, where 24 participants performed polygon identification tasks as well as... (More)
The number of web services providing cartographic data is increasing. A main challenge is to enable a user to combine these services, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a cartographic one. One common use case for these services is to create mashups based on thematic polygons on top of background maps. In this study we compare four cartographic designs of thematic polygons: only boundaries, transparencies, hatches and icons. The aim of the comparison is to investigate whether the designs are good for identifying the extent of the polygons and if the design disturbs the reading of the background map. The comparison is based on an eye-tracking study, where 24 participants performed polygon identification tasks as well as background search tasks. The study revealed that hatches were more efficient than the other designs for polygon identification. Hatches had significantly shorter total fixation times as well as scanpath lengths, possibly since the participants were able to identify the extent of the polygon solely based on the interior (i.e. the hatches), while for the other designs the participants were extensively reliant on the boundaries. However, the results also indicate that the hatches design disturbs the reading of the background map more than the other designs; hatches also appear visually unpleasant for many users. Since each design had its strengths and weaknesses, we recommend producers of services for thematic data to provide several designs so users can select an appropriate design for their own use cases. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
cartographic design, eye-tracking, geoportals, thematic polygons, visualization
in
Cartographic Journal
volume
54
issue
1
pages
24 - 35
publisher
Maney Publishing
external identifiers
  • scopus:84978472752
  • wos:000396700100004
ISSN
0008-7041
DOI
10.1080/00087041.2016.1147191
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
02f128e2-f0c9-466a-ad3c-ba2885f63fa4 (old id 8566412)
date added to LUP
2016-01-25 08:50:12
date last changed
2018-01-07 04:15:38
@article{02f128e2-f0c9-466a-ad3c-ba2885f63fa4,
  abstract     = {The number of web services providing cartographic data is increasing. A main challenge is to enable a user to combine these services, not only from a technical perspective, but also from a cartographic one. One common use case for these services is to create mashups based on thematic polygons on top of background maps. In this study we compare four cartographic designs of thematic polygons: only boundaries, transparencies, hatches and icons. The aim of the comparison is to investigate whether the designs are good for identifying the extent of the polygons and if the design disturbs the reading of the background map. The comparison is based on an eye-tracking study, where 24 participants performed polygon identification tasks as well as background search tasks. The study revealed that hatches were more efficient than the other designs for polygon identification. Hatches had significantly shorter total fixation times as well as scanpath lengths, possibly since the participants were able to identify the extent of the polygon solely based on the interior (i.e. the hatches), while for the other designs the participants were extensively reliant on the boundaries. However, the results also indicate that the hatches design disturbs the reading of the background map more than the other designs; hatches also appear visually unpleasant for many users. Since each design had its strengths and weaknesses, we recommend producers of services for thematic data to provide several designs so users can select an appropriate design for their own use cases.},
  author       = {Kiik, Andreas and Nyström, Marcus and Harrie, Lars},
  issn         = {0008-7041},
  keyword      = {cartographic design,eye-tracking,geoportals,thematic polygons,visualization},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {24--35},
  publisher    = {Maney Publishing},
  series       = {Cartographic Journal},
  title        = {Cartographic Design Matters : A Comparison of Thematic Polygon Design},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00087041.2016.1147191},
  volume       = {54},
  year         = {2017},
}