The Future of Visual Content Explained: The Anatomy of an Interactive Infographic

April 6, 2017 | Dan Trefethen

Data shows that infographics are 30x more likely to be read than text and that they are one of the most shared forms of content on the web. Infographic creation also showed the biggest increase in B2B content in 2016.

However, not all infographics are created equally. Miss the mark with bad design and over-complicate the layout, and you can quickly lose leads rather than keep them interested.

How can you get more out of the infographics you create? Educate your audience by including interactive elements for a more active, particpatory experience. 

The time and effort you put into making an interactive infographic will pay off by marrying visual and kinetic learning in a powerful, memorable way. Buyers love infographics because they’re hungry for information – and consuming infographics is much more efficient than gathering the raw data themselves.

So why are interactive infographics better? How do they work? Plus, how do I learn how to make a really impactful one? 

We cover all this below, including 15 strong examples at the end. 

The Brain: Why Interactive Infographics Work

People are hardwired to be visual learners. Visualizing data and ideas makes them more accessible, memorable, and persuasive. Only 41% percent of people read the text of a page with substantially more text than visuals, whereas 87% of people who see infographics will read the accompanying text.



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Snap judgement: It takes us just 150 milliseconds for a symbol to be processed and 100 milliseconds to attach a meaning to it. Visuals are processed 60,000x faster in the brain than text. 

If you really want your audience to learn something, active participation has proven to be the most effective. People remember 80% of what they see and do, so requiring your audience to answer questions or interact with your infographic in some other way will increase their retention of your content, the value they get out of it, and the likelihood that they’ll share it with someone they know.

Because infographics are so engaging, they provide a great additional stream of traffic to your website. Including infographics in websites increases traffic by about 12%. Interactive content increases time on site and page views by as much as 500%.


Show, Don’t Tell: Design For Clarity and Branding

There’s an art to data visualization — not just the difference between good and bad, but the difference between good and great.



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Which of the two graphs below would be more appealing and accessible to your audience? 

Graph A and Graph B are both effective in communicating two sets of data:

a) the top 5 active Twitter moments

b) the number of tweets per second that correspond to each moment.

High five if you think Graph B takes it to the next level. Graph B quickly conveys the most important information (the top 5 active Twitter moments) in an eye-catching callout box, as opposed to placing this info underneath a bar chart. Your gaze can then wander over to tweets per second. The label “tps” recalls “mph” and makes us associate the graphic with speed. We can easily imagine this tweet-o-meter in motion—there’s interactive potential there.

Remember that infographics are a great way to strengthen your brand identity and add to your design assets.

That shiny new icon set you made for your infographics could be used on other types of collateral. Lander’s How To Run An A/B Test On Your Landing Page’s infographic has the same look and feel as their website: same beige and blue palette, same illustration style. Over time, their audience will learn to associate this look and feel with the Lander brand. And, these graphics can definitely be repurposed for future instructional materials.


Participation: Enable Play, Discovery, and Learning

Part of our job as marketers is knowing that what delights and intrigues us will likely delight and intrigue others as well.

Here’s some ideas for incorporating interactivity into your infographic.

First, try asking questions. Alternating questions with data visualization is a great way to test users’ knowledge, determine their readiness for your product, or do a survey. FIS Global used the survey approach for their commercial banking infographic.



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Asking questions is an easy way to engage users and can provide an additional stream of useful data. 

Second, give users one or two simple instructions for navigating your infographic. This Future of Car Sharing infographic by the Collaborative Fund uses a side-scrolling format and asks their user to “drive” the car through the infographic by hitting the right arrow on their keyboard. The infographic also instructs users (just once) to hover over national flags to reveal data. They appear throughout the infographic, and towards the end this becomes a familiar way to retrieve more info.



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Oooh, a flag. We know what to do with that.

Don’t be intimidated by how pretty this is — just think of the concept. Give your users easy, pleasurable things to do to trigger kinetic learning. Interactive infographics are a fun, memorable way to learn through physical activities. As they say on the Creative Bloq blog, “This combination of visual and kinetic approaches is what makes interactive infographics the data visualizations of the future.”


Momentum: Use Your Data To Tell A Story

One major function of infographics is storytelling, and there are lots of ways to do it. If you have a point to make, start with your thesis statement, use data to prove your thesis, and end with your conclusion. You can also try a more subtle approach. Charles Schwab wants you to know that you’ll be better off in life if you start saving for retirement early, and their infographic tells the story of two characters’ journeys towards retirement.



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Props to Atlassian for their lively, playful copy. 

In their Communication Through The Ages infographic, Atlassian utilizes a timeline to visualize a brief history of human communication. To position your brand as an industry expert, you can create a “lay of the land” infographic that is a big picture, encyclopedic view of an industry or a geographical area.

Salesforce has narrated the story of what happened on the internet during the Superbowl in their infographic. Even if you weren’t online that day, reading this makes you feel like you were actually there. You could take a page out of their playbook and present a slice of data from just one busy day.


Connect: Beauty Is In The Details

Tie it all together with some thoughts about the finer details of user experience. Here’s a brief checklist:

  • Are you paginating your infographic, or do you want users to scroll?
  • Is your copy the leanest it can be? What’s the smallest word count you can get away with?
  • How does your infographic respond to user interactions?
  • Here’s some actions that might trigger a cool response: Hover. Highlight. Reveal. Enlarge. Select. Calculate. Answer. Share.

Demand Metric’s content marketing research infographic utilizes a simple, flashcard-like flipping animation throughout the entire infographic to provide context for the presented data. They also use a cursor to subtly indicate that users need to click to interact with the infographic.



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When you hover over a section of the pie chart, it detaches and displays the associated data. Pretty neat.

Gemalto and SafeNet’s breach level index infographic seems to be a live infographic that constantly receives and updates the displayed data. This real-time experience effectively communicates that without the right data security measures, sensitive data is leaked all the time, around the world, in different industries, by different parties. If you’re curious, you can calculate results for a specific time frame.

Small details can pack a big punch, so don’t miss out on a chance to add spice to your interactive infographic and make your audience smile. It may take a little longer, but it will be worth it for the amplification you get from people sharing it with their networks.


Those Are the Different Parts, Now… More Examples

There’s a lot to the science and art of interactive infographics. Just take it one step at a time: visualize your data to tell a story, give users something simple to do, make sure that they learn by doing, and add surprising or intriguing details to trigger a “wow” moment.

Anticipate the information your audience is looking for, and deliver it in an imaginative package. Don’t be surprised if your interactive infographics turn out to be the star of your marketing mix.

To kick you off with further inspiration, take a look at the stellar content produced by B2B, B2C, and even media companies to better understand what makes some interactive infographics better than the rest.


1. How Search Works

With the help of an interactive infographic, Google breaks down what can sometimes feel like a very technical and intimidating topic (how search works) into a simple explanation that goes step by step. As the user scrolls, they learn more about the back-end processes associated with organic vs. paid search results and can better understand what’s happening behind the scenes with their SEO/PPC efforts.





2. How much is a limb worth?

ProPublica created this interactive infographic to educate readers about the costs associated with workers’ comp-related accidents in different states, as well as the resulting lost wages. By clicking through the images, readers can find out the maximum compensation (as well as the average payouts) for damage to specific limbs on the job.



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3. This is how you and America spend time each day

Users interacting with this infographic by Nathan Yau can find out how they stack up against other Americans when it comes to how people spend their time. For the user, this tool also helps illuminate where he or she is investing most of his or her time, whether it’s working, speaking, eating, or cleaning. The format is extremely minimal and clean, making for an uncluttered message and a clear picture of data.



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4. The enlightened happy hour

Calorie-conscious drinkers can find out how many calories are in the average drink with this interactive infographic that breaks down the contents of some of the more popular alcoholic beverages. The goal of this resource is to help dieters find out which drinks deliver the highest alcoholic content with the fewest possible calories, which is an interesting and helpful resource for bar visitors or drink-buyers.



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5. Walking New York

The New York Times created this interactive infographic to allow readers to explore different walking areas around New York City. This engaging experience transports readers around the world by putting them on the ground in various locations throughout the city without ever leaving their home–and overall, helps boost the value of their subscription to the newspaper.


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6. Scaling Everest

Ever wondered what it would be like to scale Mt. Everest? The Washington Post created an interactive infographic that empowers you to find out. By scrolling through different heights along the mountain, you can learn what hikers are experiencing and seeing at important points in the journey. Again, this unique content experience boosts the value proposition for maintaining a subscription–and drives the brand’s ethos as a leader in interesting content.


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7. How small businesses use technology

Three brands (Good, Meldel, and UPS) came together to produce this robust interactive infographic on how small businesses use technology in our modern world. From behind the scenes to opening for business, this educational resource is aimed at helping startup operations get off the ground with the right tools, and does so by sharing key stats and data in a highly visual format.


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8. Evolution of insight

VisionCritical, a customer intelligence software, uses this fun interactive infographic to illustrate how market research has evolved over the years–and how modern tools are making it simpler than ever before. When a user scrolls through the timeline, they learn about the history of business insight, which concludes with a smart call to action to learn more about the company’s own market research offerings.


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9. Winter is coming

By highlighting key areas where winter weather impacts homes, this infographic lets the user explore their own weak points that may lead to headaches when bad weather arrives. Moving through different parts of the home, the user is educated on potential problem areas, can form a plan of action, and can discover areas in which this business may be able to help.


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10. Universcale

This high-tech interactive infographic from Nikon lets users explore zoomed in and zoomed out perspectives of the world–a relevant tie-in for their photography equipment and lenses. Scale, an important factor in photography, is put center stage in this digital experience and allows the company to show off their technology in a very subtle way.


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11. You vs. John Paulson

Nothing spurs desire and action like the promise of money-making. Online trading company MahiFX showcases the extreme wealth of infamous trader John Paulson in this interactive infographic, which allows users to enter their own annual salary to compare it to the earnings of Paulson. The experience concludes with a call to action for their own online stock trading services, but makes sure not to over-promise Paulson-like results.



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12. How many households are like yours?

Another educational experience is delivered in this interactive infographic from The New York Times. By selecting the type of household a user has, he or she can discover how they stack up against other American households around the world based on number of residents. The personalized outcomes illustrate modern trends as well as historical data related to prices and living quarter specs within the US.


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13. True Fish Tales

This infographic creates a unique experience for fishermen looking to learn more about different species around the world. In a way, this resource allows the United Marine Underwriters to “lure in” their own target customers through an engaging experience. By educating and delivering value to their audience, they get a foot in the door for what can become an ongoing conversation.


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14. Guide to the app galaxy

Google uses an interactive infographic to educate audiences on what all goes into an app-building experience on their platform. This format creates an environment for storytelling, and allows the company to walk readers through the process with visuals, stats, and data along the way. While this topic can get highly technical, this format keep information bite-sized and user-friendly.



15. Content Land

This interactive infographic created by SnapApp turns a static piece of content into an engaging, game-like experience that educates users in less than five minutes. Bonus: Playing off the popular game many know from childhood, it’s colorful and visually appealing, which gives users one more reason to keep on clicking through the “interactive quest.”



Interactive Infographics: Making Data Fun Again

With the right format and well-designed visuals, you can create educational, value-driven pieces of content that are entertaining, engaging and interactive for the user. Take notes on what you like about these examples, and see how you can integrate those tactics into your next interactive piece of content.


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