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Evaluating Colour in Concept Diagrams

McGrath, Sean; Blake, Andrew; Stapleton, Gem; Touloumis, Anestis; Chapman, Peter; Jamnik, Mateja; Shams, Zohreh


Sean McGrath

Andrew Blake

Gem Stapleton

Anestis Touloumis

Mateja Jamnik

Zohreh Shams


This paper is the first to establish the impact of colour on users' ability to interpret the informational content of concept diagrams, a logic designed for ontology engineering. Motivation comes from results for Euler diagrams, which form a fragment of concept diagrams: manipulating curve colours affects user performance. In particular, using distinct curve colours yields significant performance benefits in Euler diagrams. Naturally, one would expect to obtain similar empirical results for concept diagrams, since colour is a graphical feature to which we are perceptually sensitive. Thus, this paper sets out to test this expectation by conducting a crowdsourced empirical study involving 261 participants. Our study suggests that manipulating curve colours no longer yields significant performance differences in this syntactically richer logic. Consequently, when using colour to visually group syntactic elements with common semantic properties, we ask how different do the elements' shapes need to be in order for there to be significant performance benefits arising from using colours?

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name International Conference on the Theory and Application of Diagrams
Start Date Sep 11, 2022
End Date Sep 15, 2022
Acceptance Date Jun 7, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 7, 2022
Publication Date 2022
Deposit Date Jun 16, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 8, 2023
Publisher Springer
Pages 168-184
Series Title Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Series Number 13462
Book Title Diagrammatic Representation and Inference: 13th International Conference, Diagrams 2022, Rome, Italy, September 14–16, 2022, Proceedings
ISBN 978-3-031-15145-3
Keywords concept diagrams, Euler diagrams, perception, colour
Public URL


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