DOES ANIMATION HELP build richer, more vivid, and more understandable visualizations, or simply confuse things?
The intuition behind animation seems clear enough: if a two-dimensional image is good, then a moving image should be better. Movement is familiar: we are accustomed to both moving through the real world and seeing things in it move smoothly. All around us, items move, grow, and change color in ways that we understand deeply and richly.
In a visualization, animation might help a viewer work through the logic behind an idea by showing the intermediate steps and transitions, or show how data collected over time changes. A moving image might offer a fresh perspective, or invite users to look deeper into the data presented. An animation might also smooth the change between two views, even if there is no temporal component to the data.
As an example, let's take a look at Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar's We Feel Fine animated ...