What is an interactive information graphic? To answer this question, we started a research project at Stuttgart Media University (Germany) in 2009, when interactive information graphics became more and more popular for conveying information. While the print graphic had been widely studied at that time, the research on interactive information graphic was at its very beginning. In science, as well as in editorial and design departments and blogs, several terms circulate for describing this relatively new format in online journalism: interactive graphic, animated graphic, interactive features, interactive narratives, interactive multimodal form, data visualization, visual storytelling, explanation graphic. The muddle of how to name these visual artifacts reflects the complexity of interactive infographics.
An interactive information graphic is a visual representation of information that integrates different modes – e.g. image (which is the constitutive element), written text, sound, layout – into a coherent whole and offers at least one navigation option to control the graphic; its communicative function is to inform, e.g. by describing or explaining something or narrating a factual story.