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Making data visualizations and interactives work well on mobile

Mobile devices are often an afterthought when it comes to storytelling, because journalists are working on large screens and not testing their work on phones. Here are some useful tips for publishing effective visual stories on mobile devices.

While mobile devices account for a majority of many news organizations’ digital audience, they are still too often an afterthought when it comes to storytelling. In many cases, journalists build interactives and alternative story formats on large-screened devices and test them only perfunctorily on mobile, if at all, to the detriment of users.

Here are some useful tips, gleaned from a 2017 conference in London, for publishing effective data visualizations and interactive stories for consumption on mobile devices. Among them:

  • Less is more. Don’t use complicated animations and intricate interactions when simple, flat images will work as well.
  • Think vertically. Use phones’ naturally scrollable vertical real estate to your advantage, letting the narrative unfold with the scroll.
  • Choose responsiveness over interactivity. On mobile devices, usability and speed are more important user experience considerations than interactive bells and whistles.