Six inspiring examples of digital storytelling

The emergence of HTML5 has led to an explosion of new ways to tell stories online. Here are just six examples, though we could have given you sixty!

1. Paced learning

‘Where did everything come from? Where are we heading?’ These are two big questions that you can answer in approximately 50 minutes at The content and UX of this site are awesome. It tells you exactly where you are in each chapter, allows you to control the speed at which you learn and enables you to explore the wonders of the universe in many different ways. I’m sure even Mr Spock would be mildly impressed!

2. Data visualisation

If you’re a corporate communicator, you’ve probably been passed a giant spreadsheet and asked to ‘make a story out of that lot’. I suspect this project, from the Economic Policy Institute, started in the same way. But check out the interesting ways they get you to interact and personalise this data. It’s both technically inspiring and thought provoking for all us who live in this ‘lucky country’.

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3. Pictures

We love the stark UX that a full screen image or video can bring. This Tumblr blog from NPR tells ‘Stories about how you see the world’ in a clean and at times hauntingly beautiful way.

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4. Stacks and Sway

Microsoft is too big and powerful to get completely swept aside by all this innovation. They’ve responded with lots of new tools for basically taking PowerPoint online. Sway is their inhouse tool for producing interactive reports and presentations, and Stacker is a free software tool that has a similar idea. Both can be embedded into your existing website and are responsive and therefore mobile-friendly.


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Check out for some great examples that won’t cost the earth to produce.

5. Outliers

It’s easy to be mean about averages, but often the really interesting stories lie in your outliers, a data point that is distanced from the norm.

The Spotify Year In Music review is not interesting for telling us that lots of people listen to Taylor Swift. It’s the outliers, the unusual fun facts, that will stick with you. Like more people listening to Abba on New Years Day than any other band; or 30 May being the happiest day for music.

6. Podcasts

And finally, here’s a digital medium that has no pictures. It doesn’t need any code, has no interactivity and is basically mirroring one of the earliest forms of mass communication: radio.  

Nevertheless, podcasts have had a massive upsurge in interest and innovation in the last couple of years, in large part because it’s the perfect format for commuters that need to keep their eyes on the road but their ears can be distracted. I listened to this RadioLab episode on my way in this morning, which has a great story and an even better tone of voice. You might also like Serial or Freakonomics Radio on your next commute.

If you like this content, then you will love our new ebook, ‘Data Fatigue and the future of datavis’. To pre-order your copy, email



By Gethin Fisher