This post was written by Paul Spencer

By Paul Spencer

2 August 2013

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Once upon a time

Telling stories is inherently human; they are entrenched into our culture and history. More importantly though, we relate to stories.

It can sometimes be a struggle to recall and explain factual information from memory. However, it’s a lot easier to communicate something if the elements include a narrative, a voice, compelling characters and perhaps a sense of conflict that all lead to a clear message.

Our brain retains more information when our senses are stimulated.

The web is a platform for communication, so shaping content and imagery on our websites with storytelling principles makes sense. Stories work!

So what makes a good story?

Maintaining the theme. What kind of website is it that you’re creating? Start with the target audience that your website aims to appeal to. What classification does it fit under? This tells you a lot about your audience and their expectations.

Upholding the message. The moral to your story is the vital message that you want to impart to the target audience. The content should be written with that specific goal in mind at all times, allowing the visuals and the content to support and extend it. The narrative is the journey that brings the reader to a final destination: the message.

Tone & Pacing. Tone has a lot of impact in how a user will feel while interacting with your website. Is your site uptight or loose? Dark or light? Serious or fun? The tone will help guide content decisions and govern the feel of the website.

How have you laid out the content on your page? How much space have you allowed between each item? Do you want to elongate the page and create a very loose flow through the content, or keep everything tight and deliver a lot of information in a short amount of space? All of these decisions guide how the user will experience and digest the information.

Character & Voice. Content has a voice, wether you’re conscious of it or not. Try reading it out loud. Does your content come across formal or informal? Cold or warm? Where you can, try adding a little bit of flare or personality in the copywriting. Giving your written content character makes it compelling, regardless of the subject matter.

A good story is the foundation for a strong message. Thinking of your website as a story rather than a lifeless page is the first step to transforming passive users into an engaged audience.

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