Rich Content Design
The Big Picture
Welcome to Rich Content Design!
Recent developments in web technologies have led to an interesting setting: We as content creators are (finally) able to produce truly meaningful and expressive rich content elements for engaging and interactive user experiences and storytelling.
At the same time the means of doing so – from authoring tools to understanding the underlying technologies – are still a complex, confusing and unintuitive area.
Although there is a lot of helpful material regarding single tools and technologies, it seems like there is no big picture approach. This is where the Rich Content Design platform comes into play. We believe that in order to be successful and efficient you have to understand and use the right tool for the job.
This platform is therefore dedicated to Rich Content in general and not limited to a single tool or technology. We want to provide a general, holistic guide – with examples, tutorials, templates and learning material. There is not one true way (sorry!). But we want to give you assistance on your journey.
But wait.. What is Rich Content, actually?
Rich Content refers to engaging and captivating experiences, also known as “engaging content”. Basically it is digital content, that is enriched with interactivity, animations, storytelling, gamification, etc. to provide a better and more refined experience for the user.
Rich Content is an umbrella term for a vast range of content types. Examples reach from product presentations to interactive infographics, configurators, UI animations explanatory animations and much more.
The important aspect here is that animations and interactivity are used purposefully and meaningfully in order to create value for the user. This is a point that is often not clear to clients (and even decision makers). Used in an appropriate way, Rich Content has a significant impact on conversion, brand recognition, returning visits etc. But if not used with the right strategy it can become tedious, time consuming and inefficient. Knowledge is the key.
What are the benefits of Rich Content?
Rich content done right can have an enormous impact. “Done right” in this case means using rich content purposefully, not only because you can or in order to create something “fancy”. The overall aim is (and should always be) to make things easier for the user and provide additional values. A more satisfied user then is more likely to receive your message, buy your product etc.
So these are some of the most important benefits of using rich content in a nutshell:
- better user experience
- longer stay
- higher conversion rates
- reduction of complexity
- joy of use
Why is Rich Content a challenge?
As you might have guessed already, with rich content being so very versatile and depending on the actual use case, it entails different requirements. But given the obvious benefits of rich content, how come, you might ask, that we don’t encounter rich content more frequently, then? Well, there are in fact quite a number of reasons, and to be honest, rich content done right requires a specific kind of skill set, knowledge and experience.
Some of the most common impediments therefore might be:
- Investment & Budget
- Lack of Knowledge / Skills
- Conceptual Pitfalls
- Technological Barriers
- Lack of Experience
Authoring Tools for Rich Content
When we talk about rich content we basically mean interactive and animated content that runs in a web browser (or similar environment). This poses a real issue – obviously for designers who don’t know how to code – but even creative coders struggle with expressiveness when having to express everything solely in code. Therefore we rely on certain authoring tools for creating (more complex) web animations and rich content compositions. But which ones are there and which is best suited for this purpose?
Right tool for the job
There are in fact quite a few authoring tools out there. And it is hard to keep track of what’s what. Here is a quick overview of the most prominent ones – we will go into details in the respective sections.
Adobe Animate CC (formerly known as Flash Professional)
Flash Professional was the authoring tool for Flash content. What most people did not realise was that there was already a HTML5 (Canvas) export available with the later releases of Flash Professional. Since it was still widely associated with Flash (as a publishing format), Adobe decided to rebrand Flash Professional as Animate CC in 2015 (yep, if you happen to know Flash Professional things will look very familiar to you). Animate CC is currently the most prominent tool in the ring and offers a rich surface for creating rich content.
Good news for fans of the late Edge Animate: With Tumult Hype you have a tool that follows the same approach and can be seen as a proper replacement. It is also an animation tool for DOM manipulation and very designer friendly. Tumult is an independent company based in San Francisco, California – yet Hype is around for a couple of years now, with frequent updates and can be regarded as solid, reliable and mature – a serious alternative to Adobe or Google when it comes to authoring tools for rich web animations.
Why are we experts?
We are a bunch of web professionals and trainers who have been working in the field of Rich Content Design for the past 20+ years. Not only have we experienced all the challenges and pitfalls first hand as content creators, but have also been working with agencies and publishers worldwide to understand the different aspects of the workflows, the mindset of the stakeholders as well as limitations and requirements.
We are close collaborators with creative tool companies like Adobe and Tumult Hype. We know the tools by heart and have supported them with learning material, insights and extensions on a frequent basis and been granted Google DNI and Adobe Design Funds several times in order to work on better ways for non-coders to create rich content experiences.