Worldwide Epidemics

My Role Interaction Designer
Visual Designer
Team Collaborated with 3 engineers
Tools Sketch
Duration Oct - Dec 2017

"Visualizing the impact of fatal epidemics"

Epidemics have always been one of the most threatening challenges people face. Even in the 21st century, when technology is advancing at such a fast pace, we still suffer from hazardous epidemics that deprive people’s life. Sometimes things go out of control because many people are not aware of initial symptoms, or don’t pay attention to transmission modes thus miss the best chance to receive treatments.

/ Who are the users? /

Non-expert users

Ordinary people without medical background, especially those who are sensitive to virus, would be more concerned about general information that are closely related to their life: transmission modes, geographical distribution of diseases and demographic of infected cases.

Expert users

For expert users including medical professionals, history scholars, and government officials. they can speculate spreading trend of a disease from detailed infected & death cases. They are responsible for making public notifications or figuring out measurement to prevent things from going worse.

/ Design Process /

Information visualization design was a brand new experience for me, I needed to consider not only about users, but also to take data limitation, feasibility of technical implementation and InfoVis design principles into consideration. Throughout the process, I actively communicated with engineers and data analyst in my group, and iterated my design accordingly.

At first, we wanted to mainly focus on four major worldwide epidemic breakouts in 21st century: 2003 SARS, 2009 H1N1, 2015 Ebola and 2016 Zika. The goals was to remind people that despite modern medical technology has evolved rapidly, thousands of people's life would still be taken away. We come down to four ideas after around 4 hours of discussion.

We showed the four concepts to our instructors, TAs and fellow students and hear their feedbacks. Though it was not like a standard user testing, it eneabled us to make design decisions based on a third-party's input. Based on the feedback we received from a poster session with our professor, we had a group discussion and brain storm session again to narrow down our design idea. We decided to integrate the 1st and 4th views and took a step further to modify the interface and interaction methods.

/ Design Highlights /

I. Storytelling

Our final design included preface pages about main infectious diseases around the world with its transmission mode and case fatality rate. It also walkthroughs significant historical epidemic breakouts before 21st century. We used a storytelling format to address the importance of the problem space. The story has made the exploration journey more logical, and the process can manifest itself in sense making.

II. Innovative filtering

For case study of each disease, users can rotate the plate below the map to filter the data for more details. This plate functions as a filter, so users can filter the data by disease / by continents.

/ Learnings /

Working with a pure engineer team was challenging, but fun !!!

Due to the limits of data, I spent a long time discovering the most appropriate visualization to support our designated user tasks. The good thing was I have learned how to justify design decisions and gave up data attributes when necessary.

I would like to express my gratitude to my dear teammates, who managed to realize most of the design I made. The actual implementation was more difficult than we thought. While finalizing the design, I needed to communicate with the developers all the time to make sure my design was feasible within the time and skill limits. I learned to evaluate my design in terms of programming workload. One important lesson was that there was always tradeoffs between functionality realization and visual design during coding process. I shall always have a backup plan for every design piece and keep iterating design details.

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