Abstract: Latency in a visualization system is widely believed to affect user behavior in measurable ways, such as requiring the user to wait for the visualization system to respond, leading to interruption of the analytic flow. While this effect is frequently observed and widely accepted, precisely how latency affects different analysis scenarios is less well understood. In this paper, we examine the role of latency in the context of visual search, an essential task in data foraging and exploration using visualization. We conduct a series of studies on Amazon Mechanical Turk and find that under certain conditions, latency is a statistically significant predictor of visual search behavior, which is consistent with previous studies. However, our results also suggest that task type, task complexity, and other factors can modulate the effect of latency, in some cases rendering latency statistically insignificant in predicting user behavior. This suggests a more nuanced view of the role of latency than previously reported. Building on these results and the findings of prior studies, we propose design guidelines for measuring and interpreting the effects of latency when evaluating performance on visual search tasks.
Recommended citation: Leilani Battle, R. Jordan Crouser, Audace Nakeshimana, Ananda Montoly, Remco Chang, and Michael Stonebraker (2020). The Role of Latency and Task Complexity in Predicting Visual Search Behavior. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 26(1), 1246-1255.