Narrative Data Visualization on Public Displays

How can we engage passers-by with civic data?

Public displays are increasingly deployed to make civic data easily and publicly consumable, yet it is still unknown how people actually ‘consume’ visualisations on public displays. We believe that engaging passers-by with a data narrative is promising in this context, as it potentially lowers the accessibility barrier by exploiting the context-rich characteristics of the physical environment.

This study was comprised of a comparative in-the-wild study of a public display that contrasts an identical public visualization with and without a narrative structure, and unravel how this affects the user engagement and insight creation process. Our findings indicate how a narrative strategy in relation to contextual aspects supports deeper, more personal reflection on data, connects authorship to the surrounding environment, and overcomes comprehension issues. We believe these results are useful for making public visualizations more effective, as well as understanding why and how lay users interact with and learn from narrative data visualization in general.


  • Claes, S., Vande Moere, A. (2017). Situating Visualization in a Semi-Public Context: What is the Impact of Narrative Design Strategies?. Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems. DIS'17. (pp. 833-838). ACM.
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