In 2013, the online news outlet Quartz made a research study showing how the legacy from print affects digital storytelling in a negative direction. The study focused on the correlation between the word count of a story and the reader’s willingness and desire to engage with the story, e.g. by sharing it on social media.

THE QUARTZ CURVE

The results were gathered in what is now known as the Quartz Curve. The curve shows that short stories of max. 500 words have a strong appeal to a digital audience because they are easy to read and are highly shareable. Longer stories of 800+ words also perform well, because they offer an in-depth, more immersive reading experience which equally appeals to digital readers.

Stories of 500-800 words – the typical length of a print news story – scrape the bottom when it comes to digital reader appeal. These stories are least shared on social media and often make their readers bounce.

RETHINKING DIGITAL STORYTELLING

The Quartz Curve provides ample reason for rethinking digital news storytelling.

Instead of blindly copy/pasting traditional – print-format – news stories onto digital channels, the stories should be re-formatted in order to offer the reader a channel-native experience.

When it comes to news stories for mobile audiences, we need to take the smartphone user experience into account. The mobile news consumer scrolls or swipes her way through a story, making the story take on a linear format. In addition, the smartphone is a highly visual platform where images work better than long pieces of text.

Therefore, mobile storytelling is a matter of working with text and images as integrated elements. Contrary to the traditional story format for print, images on the smartphone should not just be illustrations. They should work as story elements which shape and progress the flow of the story.

MOBILE-FRIENDLY STORY FORMATS

There are a number of mobile-friendly story formats available for news publishers to explore and experiment with. Formats in which images, videos, and other types of visuals are key elements in the reading experience:

AMP stories
Stories told in small, bite-sized pieces with images and video working as key elements in the full experience. See how AMP stories are created when using the publishing platform CUE at 4:05 in this video.


Expanders
Short articles with embedded notes which can be folded out with a tap on the screen. See how expanders are created on the publishing platform CUE at 2:58 in this video.



Timelines
Interactive articles which allow the reader to swipe through events in time.


See how AMP stories and expanders are created on the publishing platform CUE, developed by CCI Europe, in this video:


In this video, Mark van de Kamp, CEO of the CCI-owned company Escenic, talks about the architectural concept and story anatomy that CUE is built on, which makes it easy to work with content elements in a granular form.

The CUE publishing platform reinvents the way news is told. Learn more here.