This thesis investigates optimized models for reasoning on complex information through the use of visual representation, exploratory interaction and collaborative evaluation. The work is grounded on existing research on visual analytics for learning and education, the role of interaction in information visualization and the insights gained from a user centered design approach.

Exploratory Tools are a series of connected interactive visualizations for portable, multi-touch capable devices. The aim of these visualizations is to facilitate accessible, memorable and actionable understanding and to transform this into applied knowledge. The present application is focused exemplary on the handling of financial information for laymen and encompasses theoretical fundamentals, personal data and the integration of a social layer for validation and comparison.

The influence of visualization and interaction attributes on the perceived understandability of information systems has been evaluated in a series of experiments. Subsequently, practical design guidelines were derived from the validated best practices. The aim of these principles is to guide future designers of such systems towards leveling the user’s capabilities with the complexity of the information domain.

Core Contributions