TILT: Storytelling platform Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

IN10, creative digital agency
The case
Publishing / Media
Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision wanted to fulfill their position as leading institute for media by publishing high-end online stories about media. Creative digital agency IN10 created storytelling platform TILT, by which Sound and Vision is able to claim an active role within the contemporary media culture.
Project description
Our assignment
The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is the leading institute for media. To fulfil this position, the institute wants to publish and share high-end online stories about media, by which they’re not only showing to be abreast of the time, but also ahead of it. By telling and distributing guiding and directive stories in existing formats, but also in new forms. Sound and Vision claims an active role within the contemporary media culture with this new storytelling platform. The target group of the platform is everyone with an above average interest in media and a high media usage (from newspapers to vlogs, from television to games and web). The primary focus is on millenials (18-36).

Our main goal
Using the new storytelling platform we tell stories about media that fit the media usage of nowadays (snackable, mobile, visually appealing). We want people to really read, watch and listen to the stories.

What we did
We created an innovative way to tell stories, in both content and form. Using a system of vertical cards, from which we can build custom stories. TILT is a storytelling platform about (old, new, future) media, using the newest of media technology and possibilities.

We designed millennial proof: specifically for short attention spans (snackable format), in vertical orientation (no need to turn your phone), using a no-scrolling, but swiping interaction, and making use of visual language and visually appealing images (Instagram worthy). With the possibility to decide the length of the story, but also the form (audio or transcript or both), using interactive polls and questions, and a snoozing option (send me a reminder).

Design principles
TILT has been designed with two important target audiences in mind. The user (focus on millennials) and the editors. For the user the content of the story is the most important, the stories can be read with as little distraction as possible in a natural and mobile friendly way.

The editors need the freedom to create and tell any story possible with any type of content that exists. Therefore we applied the following principles: all cards (for example video, audio, text, poll) can be combined into one story, all titles and texts are scalable in size and for each story two primary colours are defined based on the main story image. This way each story has its own look and feel but all stories are connected in design by means of font, icons and visual elements.

The goal was to create a storytelling platform which is leading, interactive, layered, dynamic and inspiring. We’ve chosen a mobile centred approach as our target audience (millennials) is mainly on mobile devices and stories are promoted through social media who are mainly consumed on a mobile. We’ve chosen for vertical, Instagram Story like, stories as research has shown that users are reluctant in changing the orientation of their phones. The stories are build from cards which can be swiped left and right or tapped trough instead of scrolling. Different cards have different functionalities, among others we’ve created text, video, audio, poll and quote cards in which the editors are free to choose building their stories. The stories are build dynamically. Editors can add or change the cards at any time and users can read the short or long story. The short story leaves a few cards out (selected by the editor), reducing the reading time but still telling a full story. Stories also display the input from the user, polls for instance show the opinions of other readers as well.

Although innovative in the way we bring stories to live, our aim was to deliver an intuitive platform without a learning curve. Seamlessly fitted in a user journey that typically starts on social media where stories are published by Sound and Vision and shared among our users. Our challenge was to convert these millennials, who are used to quick stories on Instagram and Snapchat, to users that are invested in our stories. During the development of the platform we’ve tested after several sprints with our several target audiences. Millennials are our main target audience but we wouldn’t want to exclude or provide a terrible UX for other users who aren’t as used to swiping and other gestures. In our user tests we found that at the end of the story they could actually explain what the story was about. An important insight was that TILT needed to feel personal. We therefore gave the user more control of his experience, for instance if he wanted to read a long or short story, asked for their opinion with polls and added a feedback option.

TILT went live with a soft launch mid-December to gather feedback, test the platform with audiences (users and editors) and evaluate the UX- and visual design. Without noteworthy promotion the platform attracts an average of 1.130 reads per story. To get feedback from our users we added an option in every story to rate on an emoji-scale from 1 to 10 and give a written reaction. We use this feedback to improve our stories and update our publishing calendar. This way we learn which stories appeal to users more than others and what they like and dislike about them. Our stories averagely rate at 7.6 but the story with the highest average score is also the one with the lowest ratings in general. This tells us a story may trigger some controversy but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth telling. Another goal was to engage users with the main Sound and Vision platform. TILT users now spent and average time of 02:10 on the website, compared to 01:19 for the rest of the website (and higher than previous formats to tell stories).

By the time we have gathered enough feedback on our current release and learned how people use and value our way of storytelling we'll optimise and start promoting TILT.
The main challenges were to give the project a continuous feel, have great performance, specifically on mobile devices, while being able to serve the user a lot of videos and images and also have people be able to link directly to a certain part of a story. All whilst being integrated into an existing Drupal platform in a way which makes it feel like an integral part of the existing website without making any rigorous changes to the existing codebase. We were able to do this by creating a custom theme and several custom modules, while also using existing modules and libraries like the Paragraphs module and the Swiper Slider javascript library. After exploring multiple options, we decided to have each story be a single node, which in turn is able to contain multiple paragraphs, each being a slide in the story-flow. This gave us the freedom in both modules and templates to achieve the feel and performance we were after.
Community contributions
No community contributions were made, unfortunately, because all custom created code was created in a very project specific way.