Visualization Design Patterns

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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.

Visualization Architecture

Interaction Patterns

User intent-based categories of interaction techniques [1]

See also: Interaction Design Patterns (wikipedia article)

Display Rendering Patterns

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.

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. 2.0 2.1 2.2 see Heer, J. & Agrawala, M., 2006. Software Design Patterns for Information Visualization. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON VISUALIZATION AND COMPUTER GRAPHICS, 12(5), p.853.