Continuum of Understanding

Your constantly-updated definition of Continuum of Understanding and collection of videos and articles
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What is Continuum of Understanding?

Information visualization is most commonly employed in the process of understanding data but how does that work in practice? At what stage in that process is information visualization valuable and what does the process as a whole look like? It's important for you to know the process of understanding data to be able to best employ information visualization techniques in your work. The process is best known as the continuum of understanding.

The continuum of understanding is a process that theorizes how people understand and learn from data.

Nathan Shedroff first proposed this model, describing it as a 4-step process where one’s understanding will shift and transform until it culminates as wisdom.

The 4-step process happens as follows:

1. Data

2. Information

3. Knowledge

4. Wisdom

Data gains meaning and becomes useful when it is processed and transformed into information.

One way to propel the continuum of understanding is by using the tools and methodologies specific to information visualization. When designing information visualization, designers process and sort data and present it in a context that enables the audience to glean insights.

Literature on Continuum of Understanding

Here’s the entire UX literature on Continuum of Understanding by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Learn more about Continuum of Understanding

Take a deep dive into Continuum of Understanding with our course Information Visualization .

Information visualization skills are in high demand, partly thanks to the rise in big data. Tech research giant Gartner Inc. observed that digital transformation has put data at the center of every organization. With the ever-increasing amount of information being gathered and analyzed, there’s an increasing need to present data in meaningful and understandable ways.

In fact, even if you are not involved in big data, information visualization will be able to help in your work processes as a designer. This is because many design processes—including conducting user interviews and analyzing user flows and sales funnels—involve the collation and presentation of information. Information visualization turns raw data into meaningful patterns, which will help you find actionable insights. From designing meaningful interfaces, to processing your own UX research, information visualization is an indispensable tool in your UX design kit.

This course is presented by Alan Dix, a former professor at Lancaster University in the UK. A world-renowned authority in the field of human-computer interaction, Alan is the author of the university-level textbook Human-Computer Interaction. “Information Visualization” is full of simple but practical lessons to guide your development in information visualization. We start with the basics of what information visualization is, including its history and necessity, and then walk you through the initial steps in creating your own information visualizations. While there’s plenty of theory here, we’ve got plenty of practice for you, too.

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Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF. (2016, June 2). What is Continuum of Understanding?. Interaction Design Foundation - IxDF.

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