Visual representation of data in software

Staying with the theme of our last blog post about software system design and usability, we’re looking at how presenting data in different ways can lead to it being processed more, or less easily.

In some cases, a simple list does the trick; users can select the data they need to from the list quickly and easily. However, different information needs displaying in different ways in order to get the most out of it.

“A picture tells a thousand words” – so true! How much quicker, easier and more appealing is it to interpret a diagram or chart than to read endless paragraphs of text? We automatically search for the easiest way to process information which is why the text in many journals, books and articles are often broken up with images.

It is this concept which lead to the development of Webroster’s latest module, Mapping. The Mapping module takes data that is usually presented in a tabular format and displays it in a more visual way. Geographic locations are now displayed on a map instead of a simple list, enabling system users to make informed decisions, quickly and easily.

In this instance the data in question relates to special proximity; the system needs to present the distance from one location to another and where they are in relation to further locations. The traditional table displayed this information with no problem; it lists all the relevant locations and includes a column displaying the distance in miles from the starting point.

But… although the required data is present, it is hard to process and therefore slows down the speed at which a system user can make a decision and move on. In particular, it is hard to determine from a list where one location is in relation to another. So, by presenting each location on a map the exact same data is processed by the brain in seconds and it becomes immediately obvious what decision to make.

The Mapping module is available with the forthcoming Webroster.net V3 release, for more information please contact info@webroster.net or visit http://www.webroster.co.uk/products/modules/mapping