Reuters’ award winning Wider Image is now available on all devices. Access our very best visual stories from your smartphone, tablet or desktop. Jassim Ahmad, global head of multimedia innovation at Reuters, answers some questions about responsive design, multimedia and trends in visual storytelling.
UK device ownership, UK Ofcom 2012 Communications Market report
Why create a responsive experience?
As habits of media consumption change, photojournalism must adapt to reach audiences wherever they are. That may be a smartphone during the morning commute, a desktop at the office, or a tablet on the living room couch.
Building a native product for every device is prohibitively expensive and unsustainable. Responsive design fluidly adapts to any screen size. It achieves the broadest reach for the stories, which you have invested so much time and effort to report. It facilitates discovery through search and social media, and creates consistency across platforms.
What advice would you give someone considering a responsive site?
Do not try to design everything at once. Think mobile first, then work up to tablet and desktop. When screen space is precious, you are forced to consider the essence of your offer.
Consider making a break from complex layouts, reminiscent of print. From social media to news, a growing standard for story discovery is actually a very old one – an infinite stream of content. At Reuters, news feeds have been our DNA for 162 years.
The definition of screen sizes is blurring. Visuals must scale, which presents both technical and editing challenges. Markup content with metadata so it stands out on Google, Facebook and Twitter. Interactive media is harder to make responsive. Start with straightforward formats before continuing to the more complex ones.
As mobile becomes the primary screen for increasing numbers of users, avoid the temptation to drop content or functionality. Indeed, new mobile devices often have higher resolution screens than larger devices.
Whatever your approach, the editorial experience should translate seamlessly between screens. Put your product in front of users, using their own devices – watch, listen and learn.
What are your plans for the iPad app?
Since it launched October 2013, the Wider Image iPad app has been a tremendous success for the team – winning 27 awards for storytelling, innovation and design. It is the most downloaded Thomson Reuters app after news and has received exceptional user feedback 80% ratings are five stars. We have established an audience of readers who are interested in exploring the world through visual narrative.
Whilst the new responsive site is universal, the iPad app continues to be our most immersive and feature-rich experience. We are developing exciting new features to introduce in the next major release. Watch this space.
Selection of awards for The Wider Image iPad app
How should we define multimedia today?
Though multimedia can no longer be considered new, it is still in a state of constant evolution in response to the changing media and technology landscape. It could represent a benchmark for enhanced story experiences, which apply content, design and technology to deliver greater impact and understanding. It can certainly be narrative, interactive, or both.