Making images interactive and engaging

Using images as a storytelling platform

According to ThingLink “images are the new storytelling platform”. The idea is that by making parts of an image interactive, you will “allow users to unlock narrative elements, directly from your image”.

I’ve been giving the tool a test run to see if it can liven up an image and drive users deeper into a site. The results are impressive. Hover over the map of Africa below. Notice all the markers expand to show text, images and links.

Encouraging your readers to share your links

The free version of ThingLink certainly offers enough features to create attractive information- and link-rich assets in minutes. With just a few clicks you can add text, links, video, audio and images; it’s so easy. Once you have published the image you can copy the embed code and add it to an article.

Anyone can embed your image on their own site, taking the links to your content with them. And, of course, because they are embedding a script, you can updated the image whenever you need to and every embed of the graphic will automatically update.

First you need an image. Once that’s uploaded, click on it, choose an icon (marker), add some text, a link and any multimedia assets you want to display. The interface is extremely easy to use.

For this test I used a map of Africa released under Creative Commons, and added a few stories from the Mail & Guardian Africa (the red circles), a video from NewsDay in Zimbabwe (the red arrow), and some stories from Al Jazeera English (the green circles), and BBC News Online (the blue circles).

As you hover over the markers you will see a thumbnail of an image from the story appear with the headline and a link to the original material.

Driving users deeper into your site

This tool would be great for putting together a pick of the week, or for covering an issue that takes place in multiple locations. You can also upload an image of a group of people, and link to background information on each character.

Be sure you use either your own image or find one released under Creative Commons. The Search Creative Commons site is a great way to find images you are allowed to use. And offer full attribution as I have on the map above (hover over and/or click on the ‘i’ icon at the top left of the map).

If you have used ThingLink in your output, please share your experiences below or on our Facebook page; it would be good to know how successful it is in driving traffic.

Update 13 March

A good example of the use of ThingLink from Hafawa Rebhi shared on this site’s Facebook
Page. Thanks Hafawa.