Designing structured stories

Stories are everywhere, from newspapers to TV drama, fact to fiction. By deconstructing stories into fundamental, structured building blocks we can present them in new and powerful ways.

We can make experiences that vary the length of the story, let you explore it from different directions, summarise and recap it, change the media used to present it, adapt it to what you already know or personalise it to make it more relevant. And we can create truly responsive content that dynamically adapts to your device and context.

Through two case studies at the BBC, mobile news and a drama serial, I'll look at how we took a data-driven but user-centred approach to structuring and designing stories that resulted in novel experiences. The primary building blocks we use in our work are storylines, key moments and people. The storyline might be the epic journey of a character, the events in a refugee crisis or a love triangle. The essential moments and events in these storylines could be the bits people remember most fondly, the key to understanding or the jumping off points to other stories. Yet the key people or characters are almost always the most important part of a story to the audience.

Tristan Ferne

Tristan Ferne

Tristan is lead producer for the Internet Research & Future Services team at BBC Research & Development where he uses technology and design to prototype the future of media and the web. He has over 15 years experience in R&D for media and the web. Originally a research engineer, then a software developer and now a producer and product manager, he has helped develop many influential prototypes and concepts for the BBC. He has worked with BBC TV, radio, news and the World Service and collaborated with BERG, and InnovateUK. He has presented at conferences including FutureEverything, IBC, the […]





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