Fluid interaction for information visualization

Niklas Elmqvist, Andrew Vande Moere, Hans-Christian Jetter, Daniel Cernea, Harald Reiterer, TJ Jankun-Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)


Despite typically receiving little emphasis in visualization research, interaction in visualization is the catalyst for the user's dialogue with the data, and, ultimately, the user's actual understanding and insight into these data. There are many possible reasons for this skewed balance between the visual and interactive aspects of a visualization. One reason is that interaction is an intangible concept that is difficult to design, quantify, and evaluate. Unlike for visual design, there are few examples that show visualization practitioners and researchers how to design the interaction for a new visualization in the best manner. In this article, we attempt to address this issue by collecting examples of visualizations with 'best-in-class' interaction and using them to extract practical design guidelines for future designers and researchers. We call this concept fluid interaction, and we propose an operational definition in terms of the direct manipulation and embodied interaction paradigms, the psychological concept of 'flow', and Norman's gulfs of execution and evaluation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-340
Number of pages14
JournalInformation Visualization
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Design
  • Embodiment
  • Flow
  • Fluidity
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Information visualization


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