How an Article Becomes a Story

Giving Great Content the Display it Deserves

Atlas Obscura’s editorial staff create original reported content covering the world’s most interesting places, people, histories, and phenomena. As the site and its audience grew, existing methods of displaying editorial content became insufficient to tell the rich and surprising stories the team created. 

I worked to optimize the functionality of a dynamic but unified story template that could handle the wide-ranging, day-to-day storytelling needs of the staff. Layout and funtionality decisions were made in service of the narrative, putting content first.

A typical story layout.

A Hero for All Occasions

Improving the display of original content allowed writers greater flexibility and variation in the way their stories were told. Dynamic, magazine inspired hero-area configurations allowed writers greater flexibility in setting the stage for the narrative to come whether it be a long, reported narrative or a shorter news bulletin.

Hero layout configurations for various story types

Smarter Recirculation to Satisfy Diverse Business Needs

Allowing the content to guide the structure of the page surfaced opportunities to create layers of information and insight beyond the story. Areas of the page were set aside for thoughtful integration of recirculation that brought further relevance to the article. Users could be presented with more relevant pieces of related information and associated topics, enriching the story with content types from elsewhere on the site.

This thinking gave the internal ad/sales team new native sponsored content placements to sell and afforded an opportunity to more natively integrate internal marketing efforts from other areas of the business.

Content recirculation modules.

Visual Storytelling, Elevated

New photo gallery and photo essay configurations could be enabled to give greater flexibility to visually denses articles. A host of other styling options allowed writers to include pull quotes, block quotes, editorial sidebars, and supplemental image galleries enabling rich and varied storytelling with a click of the mouse.

testEmbedded photo galleries

A photo essay layout