Storytelling is key imperative of User Experience
We are all surrounded by stories. Since time immemorial, stories have inspired and inculcated virtues necessary for our overall development as a human being. They have the tendency to impart valuable messages in a compelling way, which makes them live forever from generations to generations. It’s the magic of a storyteller that is woven in the art and the science how a story is rendered.
History of Storytelling
Lost in the mist of time, unfortunately there’s no historic account of the origin of storytelling. Some say the oldest record goes back to Egyptian civilization, when sons of Cheops entertained their father with stories, while others insist that in ancient culture, rock art may have served as a form of storytelling. Whatever the historic account be, today, the influence of storytelling is apparent in almost all walks of life but more profoundly manifests itself in the realm of content and digital world.
Digital is revolutionizing the art of storytelling
Newer forms of communication are relentlessly heading towards a digital era that demands higher interactivity. Interaction designs are increasingly becoming rampant across web, mobile interface and have evolved to become more scientific and data driven. The purpose is to invite users to become part of the story being told.
User Experience with Interactive Storytelling
Talking about interactive storytelling today, it is the art of telling compelling stories augmented with social or collaborative features and intuitive designs to offer experience, adapting and retaining popular user behavior across devices and platforms. There are a lot buzzwords and jargons around the terms interactive story telling which means the same. Call it interactive media, deep-media or immersive media.
In the cluttered world we live in, the new mantra “Simplicity is the new sophistication” remains the governing principle of interactive storytelling and user experience. Whether it is tap, swipe, scroll, the “interactive” element should provide seamless, intuitive and participative experience to users.
Transforming the way digital content works
Digital has evolved and so has the content. We are liberated from the text heavy content model to newer forms of content erstwhile limited to audio, video or text. Newer forms of communication media like info-graphics, datagrams, wireframes and animations render interactive and contextual experience allowing more engaged conversation with their audience. No matter how discrete they are to their audience, there’s one element that’s core to their design and that is Storytelling.
Understanding narratives and storytelling
Another important aspect of interactive storytelling is Narrative. To understand relative importance of narratives is to understand the interaction between Stories and narratives. Put it simply, story must serve the narrative. In other words, we cannot physically take part in a story but narrative allows us to do the same.it is more human and accessible. For example, Dr. Kings monumental speech account of stories around that historic event. Paired together, Story and narratives gives us powerful combination to enhance brand’s identity.
We should also remember that narrative become crucial elements in any graphic-based content beyond conversation. Thanks to creative freedom the modern digital world allows us to use visual elements to move narrative forward allowing users to become part of the story.
Stories manifest itself in various forms in web, mobile or other interfaces. Some are tied to the emotions and laid out in a format with a mix of suspense and tension. While others narrate from end user’s lens. Other forms include stories with sophisticated plots and characters that are laid out using rich digital media.
Gamify the interface
One of the popular techniques used by most companies is gamification. The inherent nature of reward hooks the user to interact with the interface and get the reward. Rewards as incentives are huge motivator for users allowing them to be part of the conversation.
Letting the character respond
Another important technique used by most companies is to let the characters or visual respond depending upon the action taken by the users. Whether it is clicks, scrolls, taps or mouse hovers, the visuals will respond to each action with what they want to communicate to the user.
Clutter-free High resolution Graphics image
A promise is a promise and that is true for the users as well. The most important element is to clearly communicate and entice them at the same. If at the first blush, a user is enthralled, he will interact. Most websites achieve this by using a high resolution graphics with too little a text. This approach lets the picture do the thousand words worth of talking.
Users should know the next step
Every good story has a structured flow. Beyond aesthetics, we should set in place proper due diligence while designing the flow. It helps to pique the interest gradually. Think of it as a conversion funnel where you entice the user in the beginning and then engage them with interactive elements and finally compelling them to take an action on your site. This is probably one of the most crucial elements of design. If your users know the next step effortlessly your UX part is taken care.
There has to be a rationale behind every element of story. Using elements just for the sake of using does no good. What’s more important is that the story speaks the language of the audience. Hence, a more scientific or data driven approach helps tell a better story.