A representational analysis of relational information displays
Graphic and tabular displays are analysed under a common, unified form-relational information displays (RIDs), which are displays that represent relations between dimensions. First, the mapping between the represented and the representing dimensions of RIDs is analysed from the perspective of distributed representations (Zhang & Norman, 1994). Second, the structures of RIDs are analysed at three levels: dimensionality, scale types, and dimensional representations. From this analysis, a representational taxonomy is developed that not only can classify all RIDs but also can serve as a framework for systematic studies of RIDs. Third, a task taxonomy of RIDs is developed, which can classify the majority of dimension-based display tasks. Finally, the relation between representations of displays and structures of tasks is analysed in terms of a mapping principle: the information perceivable from a RID should exactly match the information required for the task. Thus, although there are no best displays that are efficient for all types of tasks, there is a correct or incorrect mapping between the representation of a display and the structure of a task.