In my last post I described some of the main metrics used in social network analysis graphs. In this post I am going to look at some of the important considerations regarding the look and design of a network diagram.

A social network can be very vast, and a network diagram can quickly become very cluttered and unreadable. Netviz Nirvana has been developed to combat this. It is a set of principles that can guide you in your graphing projects. Your diagram should come as close as possible to matching these requirements:

  • Node Visibility – Each node should stand apart and clear from all others – no node should occlude another node.
  • Edge Visibility – You should be able to count the amount of edges coming off from every node
  • Edge Crossing – The less crossings – the better. The more often an edge crosses over another, the more visually complex the image becomes, and the harder it is to follow paths.
  • Edge Tunnels – These are when a node lies on an edge that is not its own. The problem could lie with either the position of the node or the position of the edge.
  • Text Readibility – All text should be clear enough for a reader to read.
  • Text Distinction – All text should be appropriately truncated (use a key if necessary).
  • Clusters and outliers should be clearly visible and distinct.

These are all good points to keep in mind when producing a graph. I would add that you should be careful that all colours used are distinctive from each other, and that they shouldn’t clash (you want your diagram to look good don’t you?)

For a video that goes a bit further into Netviz Nirvana – click here