Design by immersion: a transdisciplinary approach to problem-driven visualizations

Kyle Wm. Hall, Adam Bradley, Uta Hinrichs*, Samuel Huron, Jo Wood, Christopher Collins, Sheelagh Carpendale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


While previous work exists on how to conduct and disseminate insights from problem-driven visualization work and design studies, the literature does not address how to accomplish these goals in transdisciplinary teams in ways that advance all disciplines involved. In this paper we introduce and define a new methodological paradigm we call design by immersion, which provides an alternative perspective on problem-driven visualization work. Design by immersion embeds transdisciplinary experiences at the center of the visualization process by having visualization researchers participate in the work of the target domain (or domain experts participate in visualization research). Based on our own combined experiences of working on cross-disciplinary, problem-driven visualization projects, we present six case studies that expose the opportunities that design by immersion enables, including (1) exploring new domain-inspired visualization design spaces, (2) enriching domain understanding through personal experiences, and (3) building strong transdisciplinary relationships. Furthermore, we illustrate how the process of design by immersion opens up a diverse set of design activities that can be combined in different ways depending on the type of collaboration, project, and goals. Finally, we discuss the challenges and potential pitfalls of design by immersion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8812684
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalIEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics
Issue number1
Early online date26 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020
EventVIS 2019 - Vancouver, Canada
Duration: 20 Oct 201925 Oct 2019


  • Visualization
  • Problem-driven
  • Design studies
  • Collaboration
  • Methodology
  • Framework


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