Designed and developed responsive, accessible microsites for long-form, multimedia storytelling.
Most of the stories published on Science Friday’s site are short, accompanied by photos and social media embeds. But I wanted to explore new forms of long-form, digital storytelling.
The problem? We had a very rigid CMS that couldn’t be easily modified. My solution was to use our server to make a subdomain where we had full control of the design and code. Then, I could reuse this layout and change small details as needed.
When I started, the challenge was to preserve enough design language from Science Friday’s website while getting across that this was different from a normal story.
One version had a landing page that displayed the three different chapters. Another had a prologue. We ended up nixing these because I wanted readers to dive into the story as soon as possible and get rid of any extra clicks that didn’t have to be there.
The Chapter Navigator
One of the trickiest parts of the UX for the File Not Found series was the chapter navigator. I had to communicate immediately that this was a multipart story on different pages. The writer, Lauren J. Young, had put a lot of time into this series and we wanted to make it as easy as possible for readers to find her entire story, not just one chapter.
I looked at other online long-form stories that used chapter navigators. Their function, typically, was unclear and their size was too small, making it hard to for users to notice them. I confirmed this during user tests with our staff.
So, I iterated on different designs, placements, and wording. I found that repetitive wording (like reusing “series,” “part,” and chapter numbers) and an obvious sticky nav bar helped reinforce the idea that this was a multipart story.
When it launched, I was thrilled to hear from folks that picked up what we were trying to do: tell an immersive, multipart story. And they liked it! Woo!