Best Practices for Creating Interactive Storytelling Websites

June 1, 2024
interactive storytelling website elements

In our experience at Shorthand, readers of interactive visual stories spend longer on the page, bounce less often, and are more likely to click any calls-to-action. With the rise of no-code and code-optional platforms, creating a powerful interactive visual story is easier than ever. In this guide, we run through some practical visual storytelling tips, along with plenty of visual storytelling example stories and case studies for inspiration. What do the BBC, Tripadvisor, and Penguin have in common?

Key Takeaways

  • Interactive visual stories increase user engagement and reduce bounce rates.
  • High-quality images, illustrations, animations, and short video clips can effectively convey stories and emotions.
  • Be strategic with interactive visual elements to avoid overwhelming the audience.
  • Simple features like branded sounds or color changes on hover can enhance the user experience.
  • Aim for the ‘Goldilocks’ effect by balancing the number of interactive elements to keep the audience engaged without overwhelming them.

1. Shorthand

Shorthand has revolutionized the way content teams create stunning visual web content. From marketers to journalists, this platform has enabled the creation of tens of thousands of compelling visual stories without the need for web design skills.

Craft Sumptuous Content at Speed

One of the standout features of Shorthand is its ability to craft sumptuous content quickly. The platform is designed to be user-friendly, allowing even those with no coding experience to produce high-quality editorials, reports, and proposals.

No Code Required

With Shorthand, you can start creating stunning visual web content for free. The platform’s no-code approach means that anyone can publish their first story without any technical hurdles.

Get Started with Shorthand

If you’re ready to dive into the world of digital storytelling, Shorthand offers a free trial to get you started. This is an excellent opportunity to explore the platform’s features and see how it can enhance your content strategy.

Shorthand is perfect for a wide range of content types, making it a versatile tool for any content team.

Backlink Strategies

Incorporating Shorthand into your content creation process can also boost your backlink strategies. High-quality, visually appealing content is more likely to be shared and linked to, increasing your site’s authority and reach.

2. BBC

The BBC has long been a pioneer in embedding transparency, enhancing trust through its interactive storytelling. One of the standout examples is ‘The Lost Tablet and the Secret Documents,’ a multimedia story that provides an unprecedented understanding of the secretive Russian mercenary group’s inner workings. This story includes hidden video footage and authentic map images that morph from one to the next as you scroll.

Key Features

  • Rigorous Manual Verification: BBC journalists do rigorous manual verification of the media we publish to ensure it is an authentic depiction of events. We check content against other sources to maintain credibility.
  • Multimedia Integration: The use of videos, images, and interactive maps enhances the storytelling experience, making it more engaging for the audience.
  • User Engagement: Interactive elements like scroll-triggered animations and morphing images keep users engaged and encourage them to spend more time on the site.

Benefits for Marketers

  • Enhanced Credibility: By following the BBC’s example of rigorous verification, marketers can build trust with their audience.
  • Increased Engagement: Multimedia elements can significantly increase user engagement and time spent on the site.
  • SEO Advantages: High-quality, interactive content can improve SEO rankings, making it easier for potential customers to find your site.

How to Implement

  1. Content Verification: Ensure all media and information are verified for authenticity.
  2. Multimedia Elements: Integrate videos, images, and interactive maps to make the story more engaging.
  3. User Interaction: Use scroll-triggered animations and other interactive elements to keep users engaged.
  4. SEO Optimization: Optimize your content for search engines to improve visibility.
By adopting these practices, we can create compelling, trustworthy, and engaging interactive stories that not only draw in the audience but also convert them into loyal customers.

For those interested in backlink services or considering a backlink purchase, integrating these best practices can also enhance your site’s authority and trustworthiness.

3. Tripadvisor

Tripadvisor is a prime example of how interactive storytelling can enhance user engagement and drive conversions. By integrating various interactive elements, we can create a more immersive experience for our users.

User-Generated Content

One of the standout features of Tripadvisor is its extensive use of user-generated content. Reviews, photos, and ratings from real users add a layer of authenticity and trust to the platform. This not only helps in building a community but also improves SEO through fresh, relevant content.

Visual Storytelling

Tripadvisor excels in visual storytelling by incorporating high-quality images and videos. This not only makes the content more engaging but also helps in better conveying the experience of a place. Visual elements are crucial for capturing the audience’s attention and keeping them on the page longer.

Interactive Maps

Interactive maps are another feature that sets Tripadvisor apart. These maps allow users to explore destinations in a more interactive manner, providing a sense of place and helping users make informed decisions. This feature is particularly useful for travel planning and enhances the overall user experience.

Trust & Safety

Trust and safety are paramount on platforms like Tripadvisor. The site has specific posting guidelines for reviews to ensure that the content is reliable and trustworthy. This is crucial for maintaining the platform’s credibility and user trust.

By focusing on user-generated content, visual storytelling, and interactive elements, we can create a more engaging and trustworthy platform that not only draws in the audience but also converts them into loyal users.

SEO Benefits

Incorporating these interactive elements also has significant SEO benefits. Fresh, user-generated content helps in improving search engine rankings. Additionally, high-quality visuals and interactive features can reduce bounce rates and increase the time users spend on the site, further boosting SEO.

For those looking to enhance their SEO strategy, consider investing in seo services link building or even buy a backlink to improve your site’s authority. Remember, a well-rounded SEO strategy can significantly impact your site’s performance.


Tripadvisor’s approach to interactive storytelling offers valuable lessons for anyone looking to create a compelling and engaging website. By focusing on user-generated content, visual storytelling, and interactive features, we can build a platform that not only attracts but also retains users. Whether you’re looking to backlink buy or improve your site’s overall user experience, these strategies can provide a solid foundation for success.

4. Penguin

Penguin Random House Canada has revolutionized the way we experience children’s books with their innovative web app, Living Stories. This completely free and functional web app brings to life the children’s books you read aloud with smart lights, creating an immersive storytelling experience.

Interactive Features

Living Stories offers a range of interactive features that make storytelling more engaging. From synchronized smart lights to sound effects, the app ensures that every reading session is a unique adventure.


The app is designed to be accessible to all users, ensuring that children with different needs can enjoy the stories. The interface is user-friendly, and the app supports various assistive technologies.

Educational Value

Living Stories is not just about entertainment; it also has significant educational value. The app encourages children to read more and helps improve their listening and comprehension skills.

By integrating technology with traditional storytelling, we can create a more engaging and educational experience for children.

User Feedback

The feedback from users has been overwhelmingly positive. Parents appreciate the app’s ability to make reading more interactive and enjoyable for their children. Teachers have also found it to be a valuable tool in the classroom.

Future Developments

Penguin Random House Canada is continually working on new features and improvements for Living Stories. Future updates will include more interactive elements and support for additional languages.

5. Arab News

Engaging Content

Arab News has mastered the art of engaging content. By focusing on immersive gameplay and interactive storytelling, they draw in their audience effectively. This approach not only keeps readers on the page longer but also increases the likelihood of conversions.

Visual Appeal

The visual appeal of Arab News is another standout feature. Their use of high-quality images and videos enhances the user experience, making the content more relatable and engaging. This is a crucial aspect of agency marketing digital strategies.

User Experience

User experience is at the forefront of Arab News’ design. The website is easy to navigate, and the content is well-organized, making it simple for users to find what they are looking for. This is a key element for any agency for digital marketing aiming to improve client websites.

Arab News sets a high standard in the realm of digital storytelling, offering a seamless blend of engaging content, visual appeal, and user-friendly design.

Conversion Strategies

Arab News employs effective conversion strategies, such as clear call-to-action buttons and engaging headlines. These elements are essential for turning visitors into loyal readers or customers. Their approach serves as a model for other digital marketing agencies looking to improve their conversion rates.

6. Goldilocks

When employing these techniques, aim for the ‘Goldilocks’ effect. Without interactive elements, you can easily lose the attention of your audience, who will quickly click away. But with too many elements, they’ll be overwhelmed, and the purpose of your piece will be lost.

Finding the Balance

Engaging the Audience

Measuring Success

7. Parallax Scrolling

Parallax scrolling is an excellent storytelling design element that can significantly enhance user engagement on your website. By creating a sense of depth and motion, parallax effects can make your content more immersive and engaging. Using parallax scrolling effects is a great way to tell your brand’s story.

Benefits of Parallax Scrolling

  • Enhanced User Engagement: Parallax scrolling can draw users into your content, making them more likely to stay on your site longer.
  • Improved Storytelling: This technique allows for a more dynamic presentation of your narrative, helping to convey your message more effectively.
  • Visual Appeal: Parallax effects can make your website visually stunning, which can leave a lasting impression on your visitors.

Best Practices

  1. Keep It Simple: While parallax scrolling can be visually impressive, it’s essential not to overdo it. Too many effects can overwhelm users and detract from your content.
  2. Optimise for Performance: Ensure that your parallax effects do not slow down your website. Performance issues can lead to higher bounce rates.
  3. Analyse SEO Impact: Parallax scrolling can affect your site’s SEO. Make sure to analyse SEO metrics to ensure that your use of parallax effects is not negatively impacting your search engine rankings.
Parallax websites immerse and engage users, making them an excellent choice for brands looking to create a memorable online experience.

Tools and Resources

  • Shorthand: A platform that makes it easy to include interactive elements like parallax scrolling in your storytelling.
  • Thinglink: A tool for adding interactive functions to images, enhancing the parallax experience.
  • Timeline JS: Useful for creating interactive timelines that can complement your parallax design.

8. Horizontal Scrolling

Horizontal scrolling is a unique and engaging way to present content on a website. It can be particularly effective for storytelling, as it allows us to guide the user through a narrative in a linear fashion. However, it’s crucial to use this technique strategically to avoid overwhelming the user.

9. Full-Page Scrolling

Full-page scrolling is a powerful technique that can transform a website into an immersive storytelling experience. By allowing users to scroll through entire sections of content seamlessly, we can create a compelling narrative that keeps visitors engaged from start to finish.

Benefits of Full-Page Scrolling

  • Enhanced User Engagement: Full-page scrolling encourages users to stay longer on the site as they are drawn into the story.
  • Improved Navigation: It simplifies navigation by reducing the need for multiple clicks and page loads.
  • Visual Impact: Large, full-screen sections can make a strong visual impact, making the content more memorable.

Implementing Full-Page Scrolling

To implement full-page scrolling effectively, consider the following steps:

  1. Plan Your Content: Outline the key sections of your story and decide how they will flow from one to the next.
  2. Design for Impact: Use high-quality visuals and interactive elements to enhance the storytelling experience.
  3. Optimize for Performance: Ensure that your website loads quickly and smoothly to prevent user frustration.

Best Practices

  • Keep It Simple: Avoid clutter and focus on delivering a clear, concise message.
  • Use Visual Cues: Guide users through the story with visual cues like arrows or progress indicators.
  • Test Across Devices: Make sure your full-page scrolling experience works well on both desktop and mobile devices.
Full-page scrolling can be a game-changer for storytelling websites, offering a seamless and engaging way to present content. By following best practices and focusing on user experience, we can create websites that not only draw in audiences but also convert them into loyal followers.

Incorporating full-page scrolling into your website can also enhance your backlink strategy, as engaging and visually appealing content is more likely to be shared and linked to by other sites.

10. Scroll-Triggered Animations

Scroll-triggered animations are a powerful tool in our interactive storytelling arsenal. They transform passive viewers into active participants, drawing users deeper into the narrative and creating an immersive experience that lingers long after the interaction ends. By implementing scroll-triggered animations to gradually unveil elements of your story, we can keep users engaged and encourage them to explore further.

Enhancing Engagement through Interactivity

Transforming passive viewers into active participants is the magic of interactive design. Utilizing tools like scroll-triggered animations and clickable hotspots, these dynamic elements are vital in deepening user engagement. They not only draw the user deeper into the narrative but also craft an immersive experience that sticks in the memory long after the interaction ends.

Crafting the Narrative

Be strategic in your use of interactive visual elements. With storytelling platforms like Shorthand, it’s become much easier to include interactive elements, such as scroll-based animation and other scrollytelling techniques. One example comes from Arab News. In their story on Arabic Calligraphy, they use multiple static images to create the effect of animation, triggered by the reader scrolling down the page.

Practical Tips

  • Bring your stories to life with animations.
  • Avoid distracting or repetitive animations which can cause fatigue.
  • Use tools like Thinglink and Timeline JS to add an interactive function to images and timelines.
Animations mindfully bring your stories to life. Avoid distracting or repetitive animations which can cause fatigue.


In conclusion, creating interactive storytelling websites is a powerful strategy to engage and retain your audience. By leveraging high-quality visuals, strategic interactive elements, and a compelling narrative, you can transform your website into an immersive experience that resonates with users. As demonstrated by industry leaders like the BBC, Tripadvisor, and Penguin, the integration of visual storytelling can significantly enhance user engagement and drive action. With the rise of no-code and code-optional platforms, these techniques are now more accessible than ever. By following the best practices outlined in this guide, you can craft a dynamic and interactive web presence that not only tells your brand story effectively but also captivates and retains your audience.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using interactive visual stories?

Interactive visual stories engage readers longer, reduce bounce rates, and increase the likelihood of clicking on calls-to-action. They make complex ideas easier to understand and create an emotional connection with the audience.

How can I create an interactive storytelling website without coding skills?

No-code and code-optional platforms like Shorthand make it easier to create interactive visual stories. These platforms offer tools to include elements like scroll-based animations and other scrollytelling techniques.

What are some examples of successful interactive storytelling websites?

Examples include BBC, Tripadvisor, and Penguin, which effectively use interactive visual elements to engage their audiences and convey their brand stories.

How can I use interactive elements without overwhelming my audience?

Aim for the ‘Goldilocks’ effect by balancing the amount of interactive elements. Use simple features like branded sounds, color changes on hover, and scroll-triggered animations to enhance the experience without overwhelming the user.

What are some techniques to enhance user engagement on my website?

Use high-quality images, illustrations, animations, and short video clips. Employ non-conventional scrolls like parallax, horizontal, and full-page scrolling. These elements can trigger different responses and encourage more engagement.

What are scroll-triggered animations and how do they work?

Scroll-triggered animations are visual effects that activate as the user scrolls down the page. They can include animations, color changes, and other dynamic elements that enhance the storytelling experience.

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