What is an Interactive Infographic
Interactive infographics are representations of information that allow the viewer to interact with the data. As apose to static infographics. Interactive infographics must be programmed to be created, they usually have a lot more data, and they allow the viewer to discover things on their own.
Interactive infographics allow users to play with dataset for themselves – often by providing details on mouseover, giving different coordinated views, or panning and zooming.
Some of the best interactive infographics have been created by the interactive or online departments of major news organizations such as New York Time. , and they tend to take advantage of modern web browser.
For infographics to truly come alive, here at ITVantage our designers and coders must work in synch and synergy to produce truly magical results for our customers. We have borrowed core concepts in our study of interactive infogrpahics from the Society of New Design. The chart below illustrates some of our core features:-
Infographics have been arising in the context of data visualization, which is, according to Michael Friendly “the science of visual representation of -‚data’, defined as information which has been abstracted in some schematic form, including attributes or variables for the units of information”. Instead of data visualization, some scholars use the term information visualization.
As the second part of the compound word indicates, infographics belong to the semiotic system of images. However, many infographics can be characterized as an interplay of three semiotic systems: image, language, and number. The relevance of numbers for infographics has received little attention, so far. That might change with the upcoming data journalism.
Another key feature is, of course, interactivity. Needless to say, that a myriad of different and contradictory definitions of the term interactivity (not to confound with interaction) exists. We define interactivity by different levels. The lowest level of interactivity includes object interactivity. When the user clicks on a button, he or she gets a response. However, when the user clicks on a thumbnail just to enlarge a graphic, we do not regard this information graphic as interactive, because every click should provide access to new information or to the next information sequence. A medium level of interactivity comprises hierarchical and hyperlinked interactivity. A high level of interactivity is reached, when users can influence or modify the content and choose their own navigation path through the information graphic.
Linearity – nonlinearity:
Closely connected to interactivity is the term linearity resp. nonlinearity. Linear interactivity enables the user to move between information sequences through a (narrative) frame predefined by the author. We call it step by step-dramaturgy. In contrast, the nonlinear type of information graphic is often based on data visualization and lets the users explore the data by themselves; they can manipulate the graphic by filtering, selecting, and searching the data. Between these both types, linear and non-linear, we figured out various hybrid patterns of a linear-nonlinear structure.
All information graphics are multimodal. We prefer this term to the overused term multimedia and refer to the research of Gunther Kress and his book “Multimodality”. According to Kress, image, writing, music, gesture, speech, moving image, 3D objects, layout and even color can be a mode. In our context, the multimodal approach is suitable to break through the dichotomy of image and text, to include design, layout and color as crucial elements and to consider the information graphic as a holistic entity.
The main function of an infographic is to show something that is hard to explain verbally, in a visual way. A further important function is to inform, which can be done in three different ways: narrative, explicative, and descriptive. When journalists and information designers talk about infographics, they often use the phrase „visual storytelling“. However, when does a graphic tell a story, when can it be characterized as narrative? Our content analysis has shown that not all information graphics are visual narratives. For conveying a story, we need a sequence of facts or factual events that are temporally structured and coherently related to each other. While the terms descriptive and explicative focus on the description and explanation of a certain state, narrative implies a change of this state. An indication for storytelling is the timeline as navigation tool.
Based on these theoretical considerations, we developed the following definition:
An interactive information graphic is a visual representation of information that integrates different modes – e.g. image (which is the constitutive element), written text, sound, layout – into a coherent whole and offers at least one navigation option to control the graphic; its communicative function is to inform, e.g. by describing or explaining something or narrating a factual story.