Crafting a positive and memorable digital experience is like telling a good story. — Dan Nessler, UX Expert
Storytelling establishes an emotional connection between your content and your audience. It takes viewers on a journey and helps indirectly reinforce the meaning and value that your organization delivers in an authentic way. When using immersive content to tell stories, you can inform and educate your audience in a way that is substantially more impactful than functional website copy. In this part of the guide, we’re going to review two frameworks you can use to create engaging stories in your virtual tour.
Award-winning NPR journalist Scott Simon says to “tell your story in short, breathable sections and include lots of details.” That’s why we organize virtual tour experiences using a modified three-act story structure: purpose, substance and next steps.
The beginning of your story should include your purpose. Why are you inviting your audience into your virtual tour? What are you promising to deliver? What’s in it for them? By stating your purpose in the beginning of your journey, it will engage your visitors and keep them interested.
For example, a college might articulate its purpose is to provide a valuable learning experience that will enable students to create their future. A fitness centre may exist as a place where individuals can meet their physical goals and boost their self-esteem. To create an effective and compelling narrative, you want to introduce your purpose in the beginning and point back to it throughout your story.
The middle of your story should include the bulk of the content that you want to deliver. In a hotel context, showing potential guests the suites, swimming pool and restaurant/lounge area might be the most important things to get across. When these amenities are conveyed from the perspective of a guest or on site staff (such as a concierge in this case), it can make content more relatable and relevant for your viewers.
At the end of the tour, leave your audience with next steps. What should they do next? Why do they need what you’re offering? When your content is conveyed effectively throughout your tour, it should be clear as to what your audience should do and what the call to action is.
To craft engaging stories is to apply the four pillars of storytelling: people, place, purpose and plot. Below is an explanation of each storytelling element and examples through the lens of a post-secondary institution.
Developing a clear and concrete narrative will make your project relevant and relatable for your audience. Once you have a solid idea of how you want to portray your story and what elements you want to include in your tour, it’s time to start creating your project. In the next part of this guide, we will be laying out the different steps and stages in the virtual tour creation process and the approximate timeframe to produce it.