Animation in Data Visualization

Animation in Data Visualization

Animations enable us to convey changes over time, transitions between states, or the unfolding of a narrative. We can show processes, tell stories and evoke emotions where it is difficult or impossible with static graphics and text alone. The capabilities of modern web browsers and libraries like D3.js allow us to use animation in visualizations very easily. But we must also ask if the animations we create are necessary, meaningful and effective. Especially in visualization we need to be careful not to distort the data or introduce unneeded complexity.


Examples shown in the talk (because they're much more fun live):

U.S. Gun Deaths – Periscopic

Out of Sight, Out of Mind – Pitch Interactive

Wind Map – Fernanda Viegas, Martin Wattenberg

Kepler’s Tally of Planets – New York Times

How Obama Won Re-election – New York Times

Keine Zeit für Wut – NZZ, Interactive Things

isometricblocks – Ben Fry

Weltenbrand – NZZ, Interactive Things

Wie sich Taschendiebe und Polizisten in 26 Kantonen begegnen – NZZ, Interactive Things

Four Ways to Slice Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal – New York Times

Mapping the Spread of Drought Across the U.S. – New York Times

Zürcher Gemeinderatswahlen 2014 – NZZ, Interactive Things

Public Value Atlas – Interactive Things

How Americans Die – Bloomberg Visual Data

Rating a Health Law’s Success – New York Times

Poverty Tracker – Fathom



Heer J, Robertson G – Animated Transitions in Statistical Data Graphics (2007)

Fisher Danyel – Animation for Visualization: Opportunities and Drawbacks (2010)

Tversky B, Morrison JB, Bétrancourt M – Animation: can it facilitate? (2002)


Talk held at the Graphical Web 2014 in Winchester


Jeremy Stucki

August 27, 2014