Checklist for planning a multimedia story
A 12-point checklist to help with planning your first multimedia story.
We know there are lots of things to consider when planning a multimedia story, from the structure it will take and the media to include, to the overall experience you're wanting to create.
A multimedia story that is well planned and prepared results in a better experience that drives the reader through the narrative.
So, before you set off on your next storytelling adventure, we hope the checklist below will help bring all of these factors together, and ensure your final story has a great structure, engaging flow and use of media that will truly bring the story alive...
1. Find the story
The right story.
Ask if your story would be better told with rich media, if a concept will be more clearly explained through interactivity or if a deeper dive on a subject will help to more widely inform. If the answer is yes, then it's the right story.
2. Breakdown the narrative
Draw out each stage of the story, and consider how it will all come together, establishing a clear flow from start to finish.
Think just as carefully about how the beginning will invite readers in, how the middle will keep them hooked, and how the end will drive continued engagement elsewhere.
Also... keep an eye on the length of the story. Be strict about what makes the cut.
3. Choose the treatment
Now you know what the story is, and each part to be told, you need to consider the best treatment for each stage of the narrative...
Some parts may be best told with video, interactive features, a series of images, audio, text or a combination. Consider the flow and treatment from one stage to the next.
4. Decide who's involved
With your chosen treatments in mind, consider what skillsets you need to bring to the table. What about a video producer? Or a designer to help create visuals?
Make sure they are familiar with your storyboard, the treatment in use throughout and, if you're using any third-party tools, an understanding of the available features.
5. Set a timetable
Start from when you need to go live with your story and set out mini goals.
Include, where possible, a few days' grace between finishing and publishing, and time to get feedback from all necessary channels. Also ensure the timeline includes testing across multiple devices.
6. Capture your media
When gathering media for your story, bear in mind how visuals could help add to, or even drive, the narrative.
For example: - Short video clips can help create atmosphere - Close-ups in profile pieces can help convey emotion - Bring data to life by using interactive features
7. Optimise your media
Optimizing your media for viewing across different devices is vital. That includes the crop, size and weight of the file.
For example, over 50% of traffic to all Shorthand stories is on mobile, so don't leave it as an afterthought. In fact, we wrote a Craft post on just that. Read it here.
Also, Optimise before you upload - it can be all too easy to forget later on!
8. Cut back
Even if your story is a an in-depth, longform investigation - be strict with what makes the final cut.
Use great visuals at the right moment for impact, not littered throughout in the hope that more will equal better engagement.
9. Reflect on the journey
As you bring elements together, think about the reader's journey through the narrative. Does the order make sense? Does one part drive the reader into the next, or does it interrupt the flow?
A fresh pair of eyes could be helpful for this, so get someone new to navigate the story and listen to their feedback. Have you got story reviews included in your plan? If so, ask us to be those eyes.
10. Decide what you want to measure
Before you get close to publishing, think carefully about what you will measure and why.
Prepare the tracking required and, where possible, test it out beforehand.
11. Know your audience
Test and check the story on the devices you know will be the most important to your audience (revisit your analytics to check what those are).
Also, think about the accessibility of your story. For example, how will those who are visually impaired experience your narrative?
We did a deep dive on accessibility for visual storytelling. Read it here.
12. Plan your promotion strategy
While this is the last point in the list, it should be something you're planning way before you hit that publish button.
It's your responsibility to spread the word about your story!
Consider how media in the story could be used to share parts of the narrative on Twitter for example, where visuals are an effective way to spark engagement.