In his earlier work on studying programmers, he conducted experiments which suggested that flowcharts were not helpful for writing, understanding, or modifying computer programs.
His major work in recent years has been on information visualization, originating the treemap concept for hierarchical data. He also developed dynamic queries sliders with multiple coordinated displays that are a key component of Spotfire, which was acquired by TIBCO in 2007. His work continued on visual analysis tools for time series data, TimeSearcher, high dimensional data, Hierarchical Clustering Explorer, and social network data, SocialAction plus NodeXL.
In addition to his influential work in user interface design, he is known for the co-invention (together with Isaac Nassi) of the Nassi–Shneiderman diagrams, a graphical representation of the design of structured software.
He also defined the research area of universal usability to encourage greater attention to diverse users, languages, cultures, screen sizes, network speeds, and technology platforms.