Posted on 


 in , , , , ,

Doing a Snowfall

The kind of richly designed multimedia article formats that I wrote about here have become quite the thing. Just check out this already lengthy and ever expanding open list of Snowfall-like features that typically use combinations of infinite and/or parallax scrolling, and text set against large images and cleverly integrated with other formats including audio and video.

When the New York Times did Snowfall they took a lot of flack for how much resource was dedicated towards its inception, but the bigger picture is that the learnings they have developed have enabled them to work towards far more repeatable (and therefore scalable) methods of execution. In the recent Tomato Can Blues, they married parallax effects with comic-book illustration to great effect. In The Jockey, they incorporated bespoke display ad formats (their own form of 'native advertising') which is interesting from a commercial perspective. 

It's far from just the New York Times engaged in this activity of-course, as that long list shows. ESPN, The Washington Post, The Guardian (favourite example: Martin Luther King speech), The Daily Telegraph (favourite: Jake Wallis Simons' journey through the West Bank), and Pitchfork (who've done a whole series of excellent cover features including this one for Daft Punk) have all done multiple examples. The latest one I came across was this fantastic interview with rapper Danny Brown. There's even startups like Scrollkit and Shorthand that have created customisable platforms that enable this kind of thing to be executed more easily.

Of-course the danger is that we get caught up with the shiny new technology and end up utilising such an approach for the wrong reasons. And it's worth remembering that these treatments come fully packaged as a distinct entity and as such are not necessarily mobile friendly and in a sense anathema to the disaggregated, user controlled experience of much web content. 

But I rather like them. Are they the future of journalism? Of-course not. But as I've said before, this kind of approach is surely a part of it, and potentially a quite exciting one as techniques and sophistication increases. I think it's brilliant to see such experimentation.

HTML5, Web GL and similar technologies are enabling rich new experiences of all kinds – if you still don't believe me check out two sites I've come across just in the last week: this French WWF 40th anniversary site (don't skip the intro)…

..and this 3D Web GL experience for the film Gravity.


Leave a Reply