This summary table (suitable for use in decision aids or medication packaging) uses both severity icons and likelihood icons to highlight variations in likelihood and severity within a set of side effects. It uses icons that our early rounds of testing found to be most helpful. This table was subsequently tested against other visual approaches to communicating side effect risks.
This table uses icons with fairly simple designs to focus viewers’ attention to particular
dimensions. In particular, the severity icons use color, vertical height, horizontal width, area, and label (5 cues!) simultaneously to show increased severity. The bar icons use bar height, number, and vertical position of the number to all signal likelihood.
The icons make it easy to quickly scan the tables and identify particularly common or particularly
severe risks worthy of additional consideration.
In comparative tests between tabular and non-tabular formats, this type of table particularly helped viewers understand how different side effect risks vary in their severity. It also performed slightly better than other formats in helping people recognize the most likely side effect.