At everviz, we think a lot about interactivity. We write about it. We build it into the program. Our latest chart type, the packed bubble graph, is loaded with interaction options. We do everything we can to make it easy for you to incorporate interactive elements into your chart.
Our own R&D, customer dialogue and industry best practice informs our work and focus on interactivity. Data visualization options, including labels appearing on mouse over, zooming and clicking, enrich the content. Businesses are concerned that the message in their content, whether in an annual report, news article or marketing collateral, is understood by their audience. Interactive charts show a 77% increase in user engagement compared to static charts, according to a recent study by information science researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway. We know viewers love using the interactive elements in our charts and the more time they spend tweaking and zooming, the more they understand the subject.
This interplay between user and content enriches engagement. But how is viewer engagement defined? In the study, researchers defined it in terms of viewership which was the time viewers spent interacting with a website. Given both interactive and static everviz charts, study participants consistently dwelled longer on the interactive charts.
A deeper understanding
But what exactly is going on when users spend more time interacting with a chart? There is immediate knowledge transfer that happens when viewing a great chart. The study showed this knowledge transfer was especially prevalent with maps, a great chart type for displaying interactive elements.
Here is an example:
We see almost immediately the high-population countries. The tool tip, a label that appears when hovering over data points on your chart to get more information, allows us to see figures for a specific country. The research shows interactive elements allow the viewer to build on the immediate knowledge capture, peeling back more complexity with each click, zoom or mouse hover. For example, zooming into the chart above makes it easier to see national borders. Quite simply, interactive elements deepens their understanding of the data – and let’s them have fun at the same time.
Interactivity allows users to ‘control their own narrative’
In fact, study participants spent most time interacting with interactive maps. Study author Phillip Thao Hoang writes: “Many of the participants zoomed all the way in on the map to see each country more closely. We saw they spent the longest time on it …all participants studied it and tried to understand it.” A study participant said this about their experience using an interactive map: ‘You can explore the world yourself, allowing you to have a lot of autonomy over what you want to do.’ Hoang concluded: “This indicates that the participant felt very engaged as the interactivity allowed them to control their own narrative.”
The study, which was published in spring 2022, collected observations from over 6,000 unique user testing sessions and user interviews where users were asked to view different versions of a visualization. One version contained interactive elements such as hovering, clicking and zooming, while the other, static version, did not contain such interactive elements. “What we have learned from the interviews is that almost all participants preferred the interactive visualizations over the static ones,” Hoang says.
Remember, static visualizations are still very effective for simple visualizations where the message is clear and the data can be understood without interacting. We’re thrilled to provide tools for maximizing knowledge retention and user engagement. Looking to incorporate interactive elements into our chart? This page offers some tips.