Interactive visualization is still alive

Apr 5, 2017

Phew. Close call.

New York Times graphics editor Gregor Aisch noted during a talk that 85 percent of readers didn’t click on the buttons of a popular interactive. So Dominikus Baur pondered the usefulness of interaction. The answer was yes. It’s all about purpose.

To clarify, Aisch recently came back to the 85 percent figure.

Knowing that the majority of readers doesn’t click buttons does not mean you shouldn’t use any buttons. Knowing that many many people will ignore your tooltips doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any tooltips.

All it means is that you should not hide important content behind interactions. If some information is crucial, don’t make the user click or hover to see it (unless you really want to). But not everything is crucial and 15% of readers isn’t nobody.

Aisch then gives a handful of good reasons for interaction in news graphics. The gist, and what I see over here on this modest site, is that most people who come to interactive graphics on the web won’t care enough to click on things. However, for the 15 percent of people who do, it’s worth the added extra effort.

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