These Publishers’ Interactive Content Helped Make Sense of the U.K. Election

Opinion: Ditch the static, purely linear text and readers will engage with your content at a much higher level

Headshot of Shachar Orren

The recent U.K. general election that saw Prime Minister Theresa May secure a minority government was wrought with a myriad of issues each party was forced to tackle.
While this provided ample talking points for each candidate, it meant that publishers needed to relay each party’s stance to readers in an approachable, fresh manner. And with more than two parties involved, that was no easy process.

To stand out among competitors, Sky News and The Huffington Post opted to craft engaging and shareable interactive articles that morphed much of the text-heavy content into information that voters—specifically millennials—actually connected with. Here’s how:

To help voters make their decision, the U.K.’s largest political parties each released lengthy “manifestos” that delineated their platforms. While a great idea in theory, these manifestos are each around 100 pages long and not digestible to the average reader.
Sky News took these tedious documents and created stimulating, engaging stories that provided actual value to voters. Stories utilized direct quotes taken from each manifesto, but instead of leaving them as static text, they were brought to life using interactive tools.
For example, in its article on the Conservative manifesto, Sky News broke down the 88-page document and highlighted the party’s stances on key issues. Each stance was followed by an interactive poll where readers were asked who they trust most—a great way to garner audience participation and enable readers to have a voice beyond voting at the (actual) polls.

These polls, in addition to amassing tens of thousands of engaged voters, helped significantly boost engagement and on-page dwell time. On average, readers typically spend only 15 seconds on an article before moving on, but with these interactive manifestos, Sky News achieved an average dwell time of three minutes and 24 seconds.
Aside from the policies being debated, this U.K. election was also full of accusations, name-calling and oft-entertaining interviews. Although many media outlets covered these stories, they did so in a text-heavy manner that provided readers with little excitement.
To enhance its media coverage of these multidimensional interactions and to stand out among competitors, HuffPost took notable quotes and made them more digestible by breaking them up into Convo bubbles that mirror a typical text conversation.

These Convo bubbles, coupled with tweets and humorous GIFs, helped guide readers through the election in a more light-hearted manner. It was thanks to these visually-appealing stories that HuffPost saw an impressive one minute and 40 second average dwell time—500 percent more time spent compared with the average reader.
Even more impressive is the traction these stories received on social media, with articles by the outlet, such as this one, receiving more than 11,000 social interactions. This highlights how a positive reader user experience—such as coming across worthy content that is enjoyable, resourceful and impactful—results in a willingness to share with others.

Although the U.K. election produced unclear results, the results for publishers are extremely clear: Ditch the static, purely linear text and readers will engage with your content at a much higher level.
The same principle holds true whether in politics, sports or entertainment news. Readers look for articles that can highlight the important issues in a way they can easily consume—whenever, wherever.
Shachar Orren is chief storytelling officer at Playbuzz. She can be contacted at
Image courtesy of mattjeacock/iStock.

Shachar Orren is chief storytelling officer at Disney-backed interactive content platform Playbuzz.