A Guide for Creating Effective Visualizations

Data visualization can be “effective” in several ways: providing information, informing policy and decision-making, and influencing behavior. There is little guidance on how to systematically evaluate a visualization’s effectiveness by any of these measures. This problem affects transportation professionals and the traveling public, including movers of freight. Even with clear data visualizations providing insight, sophisticated “nuggets of truth” from vast amounts of information and solutions to vexing problems, there may be viewers who do not comprehend or respond to that type of presentation. Developing a means to evaluate the effectiveness of visualizations deployed internally and externally would significantly enhance the value of visualizations. This research addresses this problem by: evaluating the effectiveness of noteworthy practices currently being pioneered by state departments of transportation (DOTs) that were documented, but not assessed, in previous NCHRP research projects; addressing new tools that have been produced; and ultimately developing an easy-to-use guide to creating effective visualizations. The object of this research is to develop an easy-to-use guide for evaluating the effectiveness of transportation visualizations that state DOTs can use to improve communication and decision-making. With this guide, state DOTs will have the tools to hone their message, manage the data overload that occurs in visualizations, and impact travel behavior with effective visual data increasing safety, security and mobility. Effective data visualization has the power to dramatically improve the safety and efficiency of the transportation system by effectively presenting data and other information that facilitates a feedback loop that enables and promotes continuous improvement. Previous research demonstrates that state DOTs have invested considerable time and expertise in developing visualizations to communicate performance measures effectively. This guide would build on prior work by developing clear guidance on how to create effective visualizations and how to evaluate their effectiveness. It will enable states to focus and capitalize upon the investment, time, and expertise they are currently deploying. It will provide a roadmap to the states that are in the early development of their visualization efforts, and will provide an opportunity for well-established programs to expand their efforts by evaluating the effectiveness of their visualizations.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $375000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 08-167

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    5304 Flanders Drive, Suite A
    Baton Rouge, LA  United States  70808
  • Project Managers:

    McKenney, Christopher

  • Start Date: 20221114
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01845580
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 08-167
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 17 2022 6:27PM