An Audit Tool for Assessing the Visuocognitive Design of Infographics

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Visuocognitive design accommodates the alignment of visualization to human cognitive processes. Established theory suggests that 1) recognition is easier than recall [1], 2) spatial visualizations are less abstract than temporal ones [2], and 3) aesthetics induce cognitive ease [3]. These principles, and others, underpin our new audit tool that focusses on design for cognition.

Theories of form, function and utility have been known for many decades and are well-known in the field of design, but infovisualization is a relatively new field, as are associated fields such as user-experience (UX), user-centered design and information design. Therefore, generally, design schools focus far more (possibly, exclusively) on teaching form, style, function, sustainability and user-experience than on visuocognition. The same emphasis is found in the design industry. This audit tool has been created to provide heuristic evaluations based on a set of visuocognitive design principles and is, therefore, a valuable contribution.

To devise the visuocognitive principles, we conducted a narrative review as a method of approach. The tool is composed of one prerequisite and six principles. ‘Informed Engagement’ is the prerequisite to accurately inform the graphics with ground truth, and to give them substance. The six principles are: 1) clarity, 2) arrangement, 3) cued meaning, 4) intuitive meaning, 5) cognitive fit, and 6) cognitive preference. They are divided into three groups: the first two principles concern appearance, the second two principles concern meaning, and the last two principles concern cognition (Figure 1). The term ‘meaning’ can imply intended meaning by the designer (in a graphic representation), or construed meaning by the user. The novelty of this audit tool is that it fixes ‘meaning’ as the pivotal point between aesthetic visual display and mental cognition, with the aim to align construed meaning with intended meaning and achieve fluent cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationECCE 2019 - Proceedings of the 31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics
Subtitle of host publicationDesigning for Cognition
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781450371667
ISBN (Print)978-1-4503-7166-7
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 10 Sept 2019
Event31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics: Design for Cognition - Belfast, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Sept 201913 Sept 2019

Publication series

NameProceedings of the 31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery


Conference31st European Conference on Cognitive Ergonomics
Abbreviated titleECCE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Association for Computing Machinery.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Audit Tool
  • Cognition
  • Infographics
  • Infovisualization
  • Meaning
  • Visualization
  • Visuocognitive Design


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