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August 4, 2016 (Updated: February 28, 2020)
With their compelling visual elements and impressive capacity for storytelling, infographics have become an important tool for businesses and brands. However, not all infographics are the same. Learn the difference between static and interactive infographics, plus ask yourself the following six questions to help you decide which type of data visualization works best for your brand.
Image via CopyPress blog and Image via untappedcities.com, respectively
Before you start weighing static infographics against their interactive relatives, understand the key elements of each one. On the surface, infographics share several important similarities. All infographics rely on the attention-grabbing power of visual information. After all, about 90 percent of the information you remember sticks in your mind due to its visual impact.
Static infographics deftly combine text and images by presenting challenging concepts in the form of graphics, charts, maps, and other visual elements. Since these infographics include still images that don’t require user input, these graphic treatments serve as fixed resources.
In contrast, interactive infographics depend on readers to manipulate them by selecting answers, selecting visual elements, or watching videos. With user input, these type of infographics reveal data, statistics, and other information.
Some stories follow relatively straightforward narrative lines, while others include multiple side stories. If your content includes a storyline that leads toward a single point, static infographics should be able to tell the story in a straightforward yet visually compelling way.
On the other hand, interactive content typically works best for revealing a wider variety of story arcs or investigating a number of potential solutions. This type of data visualization also lets readers dig deeper into a story without disrupting the big picture. If you want to encourage readers to weigh different options or consider several possible endings to your story, an interactive infographic is often the better choice.
As infographics become increasingly common tools for breaking down complex information and making challenging stories easier to understand, user-friendly tools can help content creators develop data visualizations with only minimal training. If you’re considering using a prepared template or basic design components to make an infographic, chances are you’ll get a static visualization. As static infographics become more plentiful and easier to produce, however, they have a smaller chance of making an impact on your audience.
In contrast, interactives need higher-level programming and more knowledge of design for effective execution. Since interactives are more intricate and depend on more technical knowledge and training, they’re much less common. The multifaceted nature also introduces many more design options, which means interactives have a better chance of capturing your audience’s attention.
If you’re relying on concrete facts to craft your visualization, a static infographic will often show off your data effectively. Depending on what type of data you’re digging into, however, you know that not all information remains unchanged as time passes.
On the other hand, if your data continually updates in real time, you won’t want to miss the chance to share these updates with your audience. An interactive infographic can give you the option to share ever-changing data without compromising your overall story. Some interactives also give readers the option to share or select personal data, which adds more potential layers for customization.
Static infographics attract attention with great design and intriguing layouts, but these infographic types don’t require readers to do anything beyond simply absorb the information presented. If you want your content to tell its story without demanding action from your readers, static infographics are a smart choice.
In contrast, interactive infographics tell only part of their story by default. Depending on the design, these infographics prompt readers to click on or hover over certain areas to reveal information, press play buttons to listen to audio clips or watch videos, or answer questions to move the narrative forward.
Since interactive infographics are more complex, these types of infographics demand extra attention and require readers to use more than one sense as they interact. Taking these added steps often helps your audience process more information detailed in your infographic for the present moment and remember pertinent details long after they’ve engaged with your infographic.
Businesses can have a long list of objectives in mind when they develop infographics. If collecting audience insights is one of yours, you might find that your options get limited with static infographics. Although this type of data visualization has the potential to share a range of material, static infographics don’t offer many chances for your audience to input personal data or share details about their knowledge or motivations.
Interactives, however, offer many opportunities for readers to share information. Whether you track clicks to understand which areas prompt the most interaction or rely on typed data to reveal a new line of products and services for your customers, you can gain important audience insights and collect valuable data from interactive infographics.
No matter how user-friendly or well-designed your infographic is, your readers may not be the right audience for a more complex data visualization. Interactive infographics are ideal for mobile devices, and these data visualizations generally work best for tech-savvy audiences. In fact, interactives have the potential to attract and retain technologically advanced readers who don’t mind clicking away from basic text- and image-based content.
If your target audience is less digitally inclined, however, static infographics may be a better bet. Since these infographic types are memorable and easy to understand, they’re effective for the most casual online users.
Now that you understand the benefits of both interactive and static infographics, keep the questions discussed in this post in mind as you make decisions about your data visualizations. When you make an informed decision about the best type of infographic to meet your business’s needs, you’ll be able to create the kind of visual content that best benefits your brand.
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