Google continues to focus heavily on Web Stories, the new snack-format content experience that users can find among mobile SERPs (also on desktop, but with less rewarding fruition) and that in recent months has been used by publishers to tell interactive and high quality stories. To try to push even further on the dissemination of this feature, the company’s official blog has published a guide with 7 creative tips to make the stories more interesting, compelling and beautiful.

An increasingly used and appreciated format

The article is signed by Ryan Warrender (Product Partnerships Manager, Google Web Creators), who also announces that Google has created a series on Youtube, called Storytime, dedicated to let publishers know the Web Stories format and all the creative possibilities.

In these videos, in particular, Google offers production suggestions, teaches you to build a narrative and bring out the content of stories to get more traffic, provides other topics related to the technical aspects of creating attractive Web Stories.

Esempio di web stories

Since Google launched a new home for web stories on Discover, writes Warrender, “we’ve seen a heterogeneous group of content creators use the format to tell engaging stories, from product reviews to the story of the US postal service.”. Thanks to various creation tools – starting with the official WordPress plugin provided by Google – now “it is easier than ever to realize an interactive and high quality story”.

The winning characteristics of Web Stories

The spread of this new experience is also explained by its characteristics, appreciated by users and publishers: Web Stories are a web-based version of the popular format “Stories” that combines video, audio, images, animations and text to “create a whole new way of learning something new,” Warrender explains.

This content is designed to be consumed in a “snack” quick form, ideal for users on the go or who need light content to quickly pass the time.

For publishers, Web Stories are advantageous because they represent an opportunity to earn more traffic, as Google promotes them on various channels of its ecosystem, including Search, News and Google Discover: can therefore become a tool with which to attract and grow a loyal following, which comes back day after day to read more content, and to find a diversified source of organic traffic compared to the classic blue links of the SERPs.

In recent months, Google has “seen publishers cut out, reuse or reinvent their brands using Web Stories”, and so it has thought to offer everyone- who wants to improve or who wants to start now – valuable creative tips to improve their stories.

Google’s creative suggestions to improve the Web Stories

There are 7 practical ideas that come from Ryan Warrender to improve the experience with Web Stories:

  1. Using videos
  2. First-person storytelling
  3. Taking advantage of brand identity
  4. Showing infographics and dynamic visual items
  5. Focusing on illustrations
  6. Publishing quizzes and polls
  7. Creating enthusiasm with animations

The impact of videos

Videos are engaging, says the author, and so you have to take advantage of their characteristics. From a technical point of view, the Web Stories offer videos in vertical format (9:16) to take advantage of the screen of the smartphone (and therefore you need to optimize horizontal videos to adapt them to this portrait format) and it is recommended to use the entire screen “live” and without margins to help readers focus on a single key topic. Also, if there is audio it is useful to provide subtitles to allow everyone to follow the story.

Giving stories a personal touch

“Be the protagonist of your story”, summarizes the article. The stories are the first native means for mobile devices and it is “perfectly possible and expected to capture resources for your story using the front camera of your smartphone”. In this way, the creator and the spectator are united by the device they use: the former offers a full-screen portrait experience capturing it with the smartphone, which the latter uses to consume it. In addition, a first-person storytelling allows you to give a personal touch and add additional comments and perspectives.

Using brand identity

Brand identity is the face of the brand and includes “your visual style, the colors you use and your logo”, which are visible elements that identify and distinguish a brand in the minds of consumers. It is therefore important to use them also in Web Stories to allow readers to identify them immediately with their brand, so as to offer them a sense of familiarity, comfort and loyalty associated with the continuity and visual coherence of branding

On the practical side, you can import the color palette and logo into the preferred tool for creating Web Story, use the typography of the brand or, if you do not use a specific typography, select a font that integrates your colors and style. Fonts can be very powerful, so Google invites you to “keep them simple and readable” and to respect some general rules: in particular, you must avoid making a story that “contains text that blends with the background image or video” (because it might make it difficult to read some pages) and “provide contrast between the text and the background images on the page”.

Engaging readers with dynamic images and infographics

Web Stories “blend video, audio, images, animations and text to create an easy-to-consume narrative“. A great way to engage readers is to use dynamic visual elements and infographics, which simplify the understanding of a topic and inform quickly and clearly, reducing the use of textual explanations.

Perking up the stories with illustrations or cartoons

Sometimes stock images and videos are not enough to be successful, says Warrender, who then invites those who have the ability to “insert some animations and illustrations in the story to revive it”: it can be all right, as “funny comics, hand-drawn cartoons” or illustrations made with “other popular design tools”, to be optimized and imported into the creation tool as a PNG file.

Make the audience interact with quizzes and polls

Web Stories can create more engagement using “interactive components” such as quizzes and surveys, which can increase engagement and make stories more compelling, as well as serve to gather feedbacks and educate your audience on the brand.

Taking advantage of animations

The latest advice from Google to improve Web Stories is to use the separate animation of objects, which makes the images more interesting and enjoyable and helps each element stand out, because the timing and style of the animations “add to the tone and message of your story”. You should choose “an animation style suitable for your aesthetics, so be careful with the speed with which things move”, because otherwise the story “could automatically switch to the next page before some users are able to read the text completely”; to avoid this problem, just slow down the automatic progress to allow users to read the text on each page.

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