Visualization Design Patterns

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For any design discipline, including Information and Scientific Visualization, there are design problems within the domain that tend to arise time and again. Although effective solutions may be known, they are not helpful unless that knowledge is coherently structured and communicated to colleagues. Without good structure, design knowledge may be disparate and disjointed, and relationships among solutions may not be apparent. Without good communication, designers who are unaware of solutions may be forced to ‘reinvent the wheel’, wasting unnecessary effort on a problem that has already been solved by others. Some means of capturing and codifying solutions to Information Visualisation design problems would be useful for those engaged in practice. The Visualization Design Patterns described here have been proposed for this purpose.

Foundational Patterns

These patterns are the building blocks of Visualizations. They are more "reference patterns" than true "design patterns". Visualization designers will assume they are a given component of visualization design. The patterns are included to provide a common technical lexicon, to build a lingua franca used throughout the language, to encourage communications between novices and experts, and to facilitate a discussion of pros and cons.

Source(s): Design solutions

Visualization Architecture

Source(s): Visualization Design Patterns solutions

Interaction Patterns

User intent-based categories of interaction techniques [1]

See also: [ Interaction Design Patterns (wikipedia article)] [ (roulette online)]

Source(s): Visualization Design Patterns solutions

Display Rendering Patterns

Source(s): Visualization Design Patterns solutions

Programming Patterns

These are patterns related to the backend programming of visualization systems. They are organised according to the Model-View-Controller approach, though other organizational systems may also be appropriate.

Heer and Agrawala's paper Software Design Patterns for Information Visualization[2] provides a useful overview of software design patterns specific to infovis tasks.

Source(s): Visualization Design Patterns solutions

Data Modelling and Management



Development Patterns

These patterns relate to the systems development lifecycle and to the activities involved in implementing and testing software.


For techniques used during the design process to evaluate coding and design-time decisions.

Evaluation and Testing

Quality Assurance, Evaluation, and Usability testing methods to close the feedback loop during the development lifecycle.


  1. Yi, J. S., Kang, Y. A., Stasko, J., & Jacko, J. A. (2007). [ Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Role of Interaction in Information Visualization.] IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics (TVCG), 13(6). Presented in InfoVis 2007, Sacramento, California, October 28 - November 1, 1224-1231. (see also [ Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Role of Interaction in Information Visualization (presentation)])
  2. see Heer, J. & Agrawala, M., 2006. [Software Design Patterns for Information Visualization]. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VISUALIZATION AND COMPUTER GRAPHICS, 12(5), p.853.