Data visualization: Playing everything vs. Making user interact

17 Jan 2014 - 1:21am
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In the context of data visualization what kind of interface is better, one that plays the data upfront or the one that reveals the details progressively as the user interacts with the interface?

Say, in the absence of anything better, we want to show a trend of how certain data changes over time. There are multiple data points, each varying over time. Is it better that when the user reaches the interface we play all the data at once or we just show one trend and then provide a way for the user to see how each data point varies over time.

In the first case, I understand the speed at which the trend plays and the number of data points etc. matter but we can assume that there are only 5 data points and that we have adjusted the speed to be just appropriate.

In the second we are holding back from showing the user all the data potential we have but we are also encouraging the user to interact with it and hence we leave some scope for the user to get a little sense of accomplishment and feel more interested.

In the first the user is more or less passive. While everything useful to him/her is on the screen I am not sure if the user will feel interested in exploring the application and ask the right questions. However, this experience can provide a better initial 'Wow!' factor based on how it is designed.

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