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Which storytelling formats work best? What the BBC learned

The BBC’s research and development unit did some experimentation into alternative storytelling formats. They developed 12 prototype story formats and tested them with real users.

Many publishers are trying to move their digital storytelling beyond the 800-word article, which has shown to be less effective in holding digital users’ attention. But a lot of their efforts into alternative story forms are based on anecdotal evidence of what’s effective. Here’s what the BBC’s research and development unit learned after developing 12 prototype story formats and testing them with real users.

What worked well:

  • The Expander — Key in-article terms/events/names/etc. that, when clicked, pop out some more information.
  • The Incremental — Segmented stories that give readers options for a video clip, short-, or long-text route for each segment.
  • Fast Forward — Video that’s scrubbable by swiping/scrolling through a text transcript.

For more of what worked and didn’t, see Nieman Lab’s summary post or the BBC’s full report.