CHAPTER 13Scaffolds

Let's start off by making a paper airplane. Once done, take a look at your folds and think about the process. How would you communicate the re-creation of your airplane to others? Try sketching your instructions. Now, compare your sketch to that in Figure 13.1. Are your instructions similar or different? Compare the conventions this graphic uses to yours.

This chapter is about scaffolds. While most people associate the term with building houses, we use the term as a concept of “support” when visualization authors need to help their readers build an understanding of the graphical conventions they use in their visualizations. Steve Wexler's The Big Picture (2021) indicates that readers often need help with building an understanding of the fundamental encodings of data, which is more than just the conventions used in a specific visualization.

Figure 13.1 relies on scaffolding to visually communicate the instructions. Scaffolding is a technique used in design to support the discoverability of features or functionality in a product or interface. It's also an instructional technique built around growing autonomy for its intended users. A graphical scaffold can have additional graphical elements, like building scaffolds, and have a sequential impact on the authoring, as we see in Figure 13.1. For example, step 3 in the figure teaches the turn-over convention. Sequencing is relevant to all visualization (not just instructions) because the author can use graphics ...

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