Experience Design

How longform content can improve engagement

Matt Bartlett

What do you do when what you’re selling justifies more content than the standard product page?

Part of the value is the story behind it, the provenance, the all-important “why” that makes it interesting and different to the competition. How do you lay it out in a way that allows you to keep all of the points that make it unique whilst still engaging your audience?

Person working at computer

Telling your story through web design

According to research by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds. That’s less than a goldfish.

That doesn’t mean you have to remove all of your important content to ensure that your readers will take in all of the information. Quite, the opposite, if you have a story to tell, then use it to your advantage!

We know that humans use emotions over information to make decisions, and aesthetics and storytelling play a big part in creating emotional connections. By creating a longform page, you can mix content with illustrative design to take your customers on an engaging journey that can be even more successful than short text alone.

As part of your content strategy, they are highly likeable and shareable. They get people talking, drive traffic, engage and help customers feel emotionally engaged with your brand.

A picture is worth 4000 words

Twinings is an excellent example of how to use a longform page to tell the story of Darjeeling - “The Champagne of Teas” using the Kentico Content Management System.

Example of longform content from the Twinings website

If you have a story to tell, then use it to your advantage!

Darjeeling has a rich history and unique flavour. 4000 words of it to be precise. Can you imagine asking someone to read a 4000 word product description? Instead, Twinings have done a fantastic job at using a longform page to break the page up into sections that talk about the Darjeeling region that the tea comes from and the journey it takes before ending up on your table.

You'll notice there's a navigation bar to both orientate yourself and quickly jump to a section. The text is punctuated with illustrations, visual cues, video and Twinings' stunning imagery that are designed to encourage scrolling and engagement. 

Ok, so it looks great, but did people actually read it?

A quick look at the statistics and although initially the number of people scrolling to the bottom of the page was much higher during the hype around First Flush Darjeeling, a third of readers still scroll all the way to the bottom of the page. And it’s clear they are engaging with an average of 2 minutes 13 seconds (twice the site average) spent on the page.

What’s even better is that 10% of visitors that landed on the page made it to the product page, showing that they had been influenced by the message.

How design is used to engage

There are many ways to use animation and imagery that can add that extra dash of awesome that makes all the difference. Animation is more than just a delighter; it can help to guide the reader through the page. It can be big and flash or a subtle nudge that you just can’t get on a static page.

Take a look at just a few of the examples we have found

The long, strange trip of Dock Ellis

The long, strange trip of Dock Ellis

ESPN breaks down the story of a baseball icon with good use of subtle parallax effects and fixed background positions to create a layer of depth. The story is broken into chapters, punctuated by illustrations, photography, video and quotes.

Xbox One Review

Xbox

Sketches animate into life as you move down the page, which is broken up by imagery, auto-play videos of real life game play, large block quotes and simple, yet clever interactive images that show you new vs old controllers. A sidebar shows both a menu and how far through the page you are at all times.

Chairman Zhang’s flat pack skyscrapers

Chairman Zhang’s flat pack skyscrapers

Here we yet again see the use of fixed background positions, bringing the feeling of growth and change that perfectly illustrates the article.

Where do you start?

We absolutely believe in the power of these pages and they fire up everything in our digital DNA that we love about communicating complex information in a beautiful way that is easy to understand. They take some time to create and deserve a special message to drive them, but done well, they are incredibly powerful.

So we start with why you want to create this – exploring what’s special about the product, service or information that you need to get across. We will look at how we use design to engage the audience with visual cues and delighters that subtly get them to reach your goals.

All you need is an idea; you don’t need to have it all figured out. We can help to put your idea into context and help to create the sprinkles that make something amazing.