Increasingly, agencies and freelance writers for hire are adding interactive content to their portfolios. While interactive content generally provides a more flexible, dynamic framework for audience engagement, it can also be tricky to get right. For starters, interactive content follows a different narrative framework. While content for print follows a pretty standard format – craft a narrative hook, follow a linear exploration of the topic, package everything up in a conclusion – interactive content shakes up this structure. Text is often brief and bite-size in comparison with powerful visual images and infographics. Readers can move backward and forwards with ease, rendering a linear storytelling structure obsolete. Great visuals are key, be these animated GIFs, videos, calculators/assessments/quizzes, or infographic data visualization.
Looking to make the leap to interactive content in 2016? Follow these five pro tips to get started:
- Start with the right structure: build clear information architecture. Interactive design offers myriad of options for telling your story. Whichever format you choose, make it easy for your audience to navigate through the material. Include a global navigation menu, on-screen prompts that identify “clickable” content, and calls to action that tell where audience where to go next within the story.
- Iterative design delivers optimal end results. Traditionally, agencies use a waterfall process for web design. This process follows the sequential “plan/build/test/review/deploy” methodology whereby content is written, copy handed off to the design team, and a design passed off to the developer before the site is launched. Interactive content creation is a bit more complex. Eliminate design frustrations by building the design in conjunction with content creation. Consider how the design and content unfold together as one informs the other.
- Use smart design to engage readers. Don’t let readers get lost in the piece or miss out on key components! To keep the audience from losing their place, consider a “progress bar” to show which pieces of the story have been explored and to direct the audience to the remaining parts. Standardize navigation elements, including arrows and buttons, to minimize interaction frustration and keep your audience moving through the piece.
- Visually capture the brand’s personality. Just as a blog’s writing style will reflect a brand’s voice, all interactive content elements should seamlessly work together to support your client’s brand personality. Pay close attention to the design, visuals and animation, and use your client’s brand style guide to ensure coherence.
- Less is more. Translating traditional longform content like whitepapers into an effective interactive piece can be a real challenge. Dumping 1500+ words into an endless text scroll box is not the solution. Instead, hone in on the key, actionable elements from the white paper. Is there a case study that would translate well to a short series of GIFs? Are there five key takeaway messages that can be visually illustrated? Fewer words with have a bigger impact.
Erin M ghostwrites extensively on behalf of B2B companies to support their content marketing and thought leadership campaigns, and her clients range from major Fortune 500 companies to small business startups. When not crafting custom content solutions, you can find her adding stamps to her passport, scuba diving, or perfecting her secret cheesecake recipe.