How applicable are attribute-based approaches for human-centered ranking creation?
Item rankings are useful when a decision needs to be made, especially if there are multiple attributes to be considered. However, existing tools do not support both categorical and numerical attributes, require programming expertise for expressing preferences on attributes, do not offer instant feedback, lack flexibility in expressing various types of user preferences, or do not support all mandatory steps in the ranking-creation workflow. In this work, we present RankASco: a human-centered visual analytics approach that supports the interactive and visual creation of rankings. The iterative design process resulted in different visual interfaces that enable users to formalize their preferences based on a taxonomy of attribute scoring functions. RankASco enables broad user groups to (a) select attributes of interest, (b) express preferences on attributes through interactively tailored scoring functions, and (c) analyze and refine item ranking results. We validate RankASco in a user study with 24 participants in comparison to a general purpose tool. We report on commonalities and differences with respect to usefulness and usability and ultimately present three personas that characterize common user behavior in ranking-creation. On the human factors side, we have also identified a series of interesting behavioral variables that have an influence on the task performance and may shape the design of human-centered ranking solutions in the future.