In this paper we explore graph models used to illustrate the relationships between elements of designs in computer-aided design (CAD) systems. We discuss common limitations and ways to make such representations more usable and interactive. In order to study common problems of symbolic representations in CAD systems, we conducted a survey of a number of CAD applications that employ graph representations in their interface and provided comparative analysis of the properties of graph representations in these systems. As a case study we used Bentley GenerativeComponentsTM (GC) system - a parametric CAD application that uses graph (“symbolic”) view to visualize the structure of design. We conducted series of interviews with expert GC users that revealed many limitations of the GC symbolic view. To address these limitations, we developed alternative representations of symbolic view that aim at enhancing user experience with the system and reviewed these with expert GC users. As a result of our study, we developed a set of interactive prototypes using SHriMP1 visualization tool and Processing programming language. These provide improved ways of user interaction with symbolic representation, including better readability of the graph and, as a result, an improved support for design model analysis.