In a series of tests, participants were exposed to visualizations that show how items are transferred to various recipients.
The purpose of the image is to answer the following questions:
The interface provides the information in tabular form, where users can search and sort the entries. However, it can get difficult when tables have many rows.
The receivers are companies, but they cannot necessarily be recognized as such; some names could be obscure players, unlike "Microsoft" or "Sony" that most would identify easily.
The visualizations are Sankey diagrams, meant to give a quick estimate about the data set. Here are some examples of what participants saw:
As above, but with the addition of an intermediate point - the purpose of transfer:
As above, but with the use of colour as a second way to differentiate item types:
My observations show that interpreting the image was easier when you have just the item type and the receiver, but the presence of the intermediate point would puzzle some participants.
In the tests some participants would use their finger to trace it, e.g., in the last image they'd touch the bottom entry and say "Tamarillos are given for the purpose of selling in cinemas, to the company Bolton" or "Tamarillos are given to Bolton to sell in cinemas". These are correct interpretations, and I am looking for a way to nudge others towards tracing the curves with their finger, or following them visually.
What was tried so far:
However, both these methods add more content (text, or take time to watch the video). Perhaps there are some "passive" approaches - textures, gradients? Subtle animations?