Create an Interactive Infographics Experience

By Justin Beegel, MBA, The Infographic World Team

Much like motion graphics, interactive infographics provide you with a powerful way to involve your viewers in the topic. Interactive infographics include features that allow the readers to explore the infographic in their own ways.

This customized view can come about in a number of different ways — whether by clicking on a part of the graphic to view data or by moving components of the graphic to access more information.

Like motion graphics, interactive graphics have their own unique benefits and reasons why you might choose them. A few include

  • An abundance of data

  • Overly complex processes or explanations

  • Large, detailed maps

  • Lengthy text

  • Data that will affect different readers in different ways

Perhaps the most compelling reason to explore using an interactive solution to your topic is when you have a huge amount of data. Say you have data comparing every single state in the United States in a variety of categories. You could do this with a static approach, but you’d be asking your readers to stay tuned for a very long infographic. It’s difficult to hold interest that long.

Instead of expecting viewers to stick with you for a long time, you could instead provide them with an interactive experience that would allow them to explore the data on their own time and at their own pace.

The folks at Infographic World created an interactive project that features a state-by-state comparison of a number of lifestyle factors, such as education, church attendance, obesity rates, crime rates, and more. They compiled the data for all 50 states and then created an interactive format allowing readers to see data for whatever states they want, in whichever categories they choose.

They then color-coded the states red or blue to show whether each state’s voters had chosen John McCain or Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. (See the figure.) They drew very few explicit conclusions about the data and the states’ political character. By letting the readers use the data in their own manner, they really left it up to them.

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A few elements that all effective interactives should have include

  • Intuitive experience

  • Clear organization

  • Wise user control (let them do what they want, within reason)

  • Multiple pages (rather than long scrolling)

Choosing to create an interactive infographic isn’t the end of the discussion. In addition to the research, writing, and design aspects of interactives, you must decide which coding language to use to build your interactive.

You have two main options: Flash and HTML5. Using Flash allows you to create a, well, “flashier” experience in a shorter timeframe because you need to create less code on your own. The biggest drawback to using Flash is that it can’t be viewed on iOS devices and older Internet browsers with compatibility issues.

HTML5’s biggest drawback is that it takes a great deal of time because the coding process is long and complex. You’d be wise to develop talent in both options; you may encounter projects that call for either one.