Publication Date



IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics





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Physical and digital objects often leave markers of our use. Website links turn purple after we visit them, for example, showing us information we have yet to explore. These “footprints” of interaction offer substantial benefits in information saturated environments - they enable us to easily revisit old information, systematically explore new information, and quickly resume tasks after interruption. While applying these design principles have been successful in HCI contexts, direct encodings of personal interaction history have received scarce attention in data visualization. One reason is that there is little guidance for integrating history into visualizations where many visual channels are already occupied by data. More importantly, there is not firm evidence that making users aware of their interaction history results in benefits with regards to exploration or insights. Following these observations, we propose HindSight - an umbrella term for the design space of representing interaction history directly in existing data visualizations. In this paper, we examine the value of HindSight principles by augmenting existing visualizations with visual indicators of user interaction history (e.g. How the Recession Shaped the Economy in 255 Charts, NYTimes). In controlled experiments of over 400 participants, we found that HindSight designs generally encouraged people to visit more data and recall different insights after interaction. The results of our experiments suggest that simple additions to visualizations can make users aware of their interaction history, and that these additions significantly impact users' exploration and insights.