Data Visualization

Static vs Interactive Visualizations – How to Choose

Array of different users

What are Static Visualizations? Static visualizations are commonly seen as infographics posted on the web or printed as handouts. Usually focused on a specific data story, users can’t go beyond a single view to explore additional stories beyond what’s in front of them. The story is specifically captured in an engaging single page layout.

What are Interactive Visualizations? Interactive visualizations are commonly seen on the web only as applications. Users can select specific data points to build a visualized story of their choosing. Better known as Data Visualization Apps, these visualizations allow the user to be part of the data visualization process by building a story of their choosing.

The question: Which is better?

The target customer, data story, and ROI are 3 important indicators that can help figure out which is best.

Target Customer – This is your audience. How do they prefer to receive and interact with their information? Some audiences prefer static reports where others want to be engaged with their visualized outcome.

Data Story – How complex is the story? Isolating on a specific data story is required for static visualizations. With an abundance of data, having just one static representation may not be enough to really visualize the whole story. An interactive visualization provides the solution for larger data sets with complex stories and can provide relevant information for extended periods of time.

ROI – ROI is a funny thing because it’s difficult to specifically quantify how A + B will equal C. In most cases ROI can be determined under a few cases when it comes to choosing a visualization product to go with:

  • Customer Engagement – How valuable is it have a customer captured by the visualization. Are you looking for seconds or are you looking for minutes? What can you do with either amounts of time? What additional information can you capture with a static image vs an interactive application? What are the conversion goals?
  • Quality of Content – How easy should the content be to share? Is it viral worthy? When it’s shared, what should the engagement types be?
  • Content Schedule – Long term, how many stories can be extracted out of the current data set? Is it easier to update the data set over time and have an interactive application display it immediately or is it more cost effective to build another static story? What’s the resource cost to build either one?

Static visualizations statistically have a lower engagement time frame than Interactive Visualizations for obvious reasons. We conducted an experiment to see which had the longest average session time. The test used two of our portfolio items:

TopGear Static Visualization

TopGear Interactive Visualization

Here are the results:

TopGear Static Visualization = 15 seconds

TopGear Interactive Visualization = 1 minute and 4 seconds

The test supported our assumptions that interactive will promote longer engagement times. In addition, we discovered the volume of unique visits for the interactive visualization were twice the amount compared to the static visualization unique visit count.

Some Relevant Facts:

  • Interactive Visualization Applications can be built to display on all devices (web and mobile) and be able to be print friendly
  • Static Visualizations are at least 5x cheaper to build than Interactive visualizations
  • Interactive Visualizations can be built so that all users, regardless of disability status, can access the information

There isn’t a one size that fits all solution. If you have any questions or need help choosing a path to go down, please contact us to schedule a time to talk.

Which Visualization Should I Go With?

Follow us on LinkedIn, FaceBook,
YouTube or Instagram
Or just say Hi!