Which brings us to the point: What if we told stories the way Amazon
Example One - NBA Story
(104k) | GIF
Take a minute to look at this page. This is a page designed by
one of my colleagues Shayne Bowman. Look at what Shayne has done
here: he's used all the tools that Amazon uses to sell books to
tell a story in a new way.
At the top of this page is the URL which, like Amazon's
ISBN numbers, is a unique identifier for this sports event. The
unique identifier is what makes Amazon so successful; it's a way
of bringing together all the disparate pieces of information that
hang off or contribute to our understanding of a book. Same thing
can be applied to a sports event or any news event. So while the
story changes, it still has something to pivot around and
a way for readers to find their way back. Thus, the so-called 'story'
becomes a product, or an object.
Also notice that this story-event works just like Amazon; what
appears on the page is determined by a set of reader preferences.
It assumes the reader is a Mavericks fan, but if the reader makes
choices that show that he or she is a Knicks fan, different elements
Let's see how the 5 Rules and 5 Experiences play out on this page.
Personality: This page has the personality of a game: it's
fast, brash, energetic. The copy is lively. There are reader comments.
Headers are direct, no coy or ambiguous language. ESPN makes an
appearance here, and rightly so. Their slogan for NHL promotional
spots is "Every game has a story."
Time & place: Under the lead item, you're told the amount
of time it will take to read the story and when the story was posted.
This is a way of managing time expectations and giving a sense of
how fresh the material is. Time also comes into play in the "Season
At A Glance," as well as with the items about the previous
games, today's game, the next game. This is time as a tool, time
as navigation. And of course there's a calendar, which makes use
of the offline and online network of TV shows, appearances, coach
While we're talking about time, note that there is no time stamp
that says "now." That's because this event-object is always
changing as the story evolves, as readers get involved, as time
marches on. "Now" in this sense is contextual. As for
place, this page acknowledges the web's lack of boundaries, by gathering
articles from all appropriate geographic sources: the Fort Worth
paper, New York newspaper web sites, ESPN.
Network: The web is made up of people, the more the better.
This page does everything it can to bring people together. One is
the story ranking by readers. The page also tells where this story
is most popular, for example at EDS and the University of Texas.
This is ranking by geography, although as we'll see there are other
ways to rank.
Writing on Editor & Publisher's web site, Steve Outing cited
a study at Penn State in which people were asked to judge the quality
and credibility of a news article on a web site, based on whether
the story had been selected by an editor, or whether it had been
highly ranked by other readers. The story chosen by other readers
rated higher, even though it was the same story as the one selected
by the editor. This page tells you what other stories network members
are reading. And it gives you a reward points for
sending this article to someone else and thus expanding the network.
Interactivity: Speaking of points, look at how this page
deals with interactivity. It offers rewards, or "points,"
particularly for interactivity. So you get points for reading the
story, and more points for emailing the story to a friend or participating
in a forum.
The points then become redeemable for merchandise at the Mavs store
or to purchase content that is not available for free
allowing people to transact. When the reader buys content,
the page assumes he or she is not a member; the page is set up for
micro-transactions. Using the reader preferences data, the store
can be customized for Knicks fans rather than Mavs fans. And of
course simply engaging in "points" gathering is interactivity
Creating certainly is interactive. Here visitors create
in traditional forms like the "Talk About the Game" feature.
They also create at a higher level - by fashioning what the story,
what the page and what the web site itself looks like every
time they choose to click a link, send a comment, make a decision.
Data: Just as Amazon mines its own data bank of books, reviews,
rankings, this page seeks out every instance of useful info about
the Mavs and brings it up to the reader. So you can see more articles,
other sports stories that readers of this page like, and other news
stories that readers like. This page takes the data that the site
has and turns it into meaningful information.
In the center, the ESPN game immersion material also shows the
value of different data types real-time TV, radio. The whole
page is about immersing yourself in data, taking advantage of the
obsessive nature of the web. Notice, there is no story here in the
traditional sense. The story is what the user makes up from the
elements he or she chooses. And the story is always changing, not
only as time changes it, but as users contribute to it, rate it.
Also, be aware, that nothing on this example is hypothetical. It
combines applications or content now being used by Amazon, ESPN,
the Mavericks site and Dallasnews.com.