Diagrams as Tools in the Design of Information Systems

  • Jeffrey V. Nickerson
  • James E. Corter
  • Barbara Tversky
  • Doris Zahner
  • Yun Jin Rho

Design typically relies on diagrams to offload memory and information processing and to promote discovery and inferences. Design of information systems, in contrast to design of buildings and products, depends on topological connectivity rather than Euclidean distance. Understanding graph topology and manipulating graphs are essential skills in the design of information systems, because graph manipulation facilitates the refinement of designs and the generation of alternative designs. Here, we found that students of systems design have difficulties interpreting diagrams, revealing two biases, a sequential bias and a reading order bias. The results have implications for teaching as well as diagram design.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey V. Nickerson
    • 1
  • James E. Corter
    • 2
  • Barbara Tversky
    • 2
  • Doris Zahner
    • 1
  • Yun Jin Rho
    • 2
  1. 1.Stevens Institute of TechnologyUSA
  2. 2.Columbia UniversityUSA

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