AMP Stories: Tips and Tools
This month for Innovation in Focus we explored building AMP stories. As we learned in our Q&A with Evan Wagstaff at the San Franciso Chronicle, diving into this new tool can require some coding knowledge and time. We wanted to utilize the AMP Stories platform but had minimal coding skills, so we decided to try the WordPress AMP Stories plug-in which is available for free.
Here are our five tips for building in AMP stories:
1. Research other AMP Stories out there before starting your own
Before embarking on this AMP journey, we knew a limited amount about the platform. After doing a little bit of research, we noticed that there are a few major news organizations experimenting with AMP content. Looking through their work helped us see what news organizations are trying and what is possible in the platform before we built our own.
2. Edit, edit, edit
AMP Stories are a visual experience. They tell the story primarily through strong video, photos and maybe a little text. Some AMP stories do link to an article, but we found it often wasn’t necessary to read it to understand the visual story. By keeping the visual experience concise, you are making sure your visuals are unique, have a narrative arc and aren’t repetitive. Like a well edited photo story in a print publication – having a limited number of strong visuals that tell the story well is more important than having a ton of extra visuals. Make sure every visual in your AMP story is one that the viewer hasn’t seen before, moves the story forward and adds something unique to the experience.
3. Think outside the the text
AMP Stories are designed to allow you to mix pictures, audio, video and motion graphics to tell a story. The visuals are full frame when viewers explore it; so using striking, emotional and well crafted visuals will make your AMP story experience more engaging for your reader. If you aren’t used to building visual stories, we suggest learning from a visual expert on your staff or in your network. Go talk to a photo or video editor, learn from them how to craft primarily visual narratives.
4. If using audio, make sure your story could still make sense without it
AMP Stories has an option to turn audio on and off. Remember some viewers may be in a situation where they cannot play audio out loud, so building your story in a way that it can still be understood without sound will make it more consumable.
5. Utilize other AMP creators
Google really wants to help users get a hang of the platform and those experimenting with it are often happy to help others learn it. Ask around, reach out to other creators. Having someone who already understands the platform answer questions is a lot easier than trying to read tutorials and directions online, though there is plenty online to help guide you as well.