How The United Nations Development Programme Engages Audiences With AMP Stories And MakeStories


Editor’s Note: The following guest post was written by Pratik Ghela, Product Manager – MakeStories.

Visual storytelling helps businesses and organizations engage their audiences in immersive content experiences. And putting together compelling online and mobile stories doesn’t have to be difficult. That’s why we created MakeStories, an online drag/drop building tool for AMP Stories. We provide users with a library of royalty-free stock images, illustrations, and other graphics to bring their storytelling to life. With no coding knowledge required, our goal is to give even non-technical people the tools to quickly and easily build AMP Stories around their brand content.

To give some insight into the process of creating an AMP Story, we are sharing a conversation we recently had with one of our users, the United Nations Development Programme. We came to learn about their work with AMP Stories through Twitter, where our team would help them answer product questions they had. With some support from our team, they were able to create a powerful Story about the Sahel region in Africa to share with the world. 

The UNDP’s Story combines dramatic photography and video of the region’s people and places, with captions and graphics describing the humanitarian, economic, and environmental challenges and opportunities in the area. Its click-through format is easy to view on both mobile and desktop devices, combining photos, videos, narrative, and graphics to create an immersive storytelling experience.

Here’s what UNDP’s Digital team had to say about how they created their Story: 

How did you hear about AMP Stories? Why did you think Stories would be a good fit for the UNDP?
We noticed a great story published by the Washington Post on the Hong Kong protests. We were impressed by the immersive experience and started researching the technology stack used for its production. We discovered that it was an open format called AMP Stories and decided to give it a try. 

Tell us about the Story you made… 

We wanted to highlight UNDP’s work in the Sahel region in a powerful visual format. The Story shows the potential of investing in the region’s youth and natural resources, which could help address the triple threat of poverty, exclusion, and climate change.

UNDP’s Story on the Sahel

How did you choose your subject matter and what made it a good fit for Stories?

The timing was good because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had launched its new report on Africa. Also, the G7 Development Ministers’ meeting was focusing on the Sahel and made announcements about UNDP projects in the region, such as a youth entrepreneurship initiative. We had impactful photos and raw video footage from the Sahel region, so we thought that AMP Stories could be a good opportunity to explore a new storytelling format. 

How did you decide to use MakeStories?
Our own development resources were tied to other projects, and we wanted to see if such a Story could be produced by someone without a programming background. We had already experimented with other multimedia story platforms, but the AMP Stories format seemed like it wasn’t too complicated to produce, which made MakeStories a quick winner.

Can you tell about the process of making a Story?

The process was pleasant and smooth. MakeStories allowed our graphic designer and editors to build a Story from scratch without developer intervention. The challenges we faced at the beginning were understanding the tool and being able to generate templates to have a coherent look—and that took about 8 to 10 days to build. We worked with the MakeStories team throughout the journey, including when we had questions, which made the process even simpler. 

UNDP used MakeStories editing templates to build their Sahel Story.

What was your experience like hosting the Story once it was created?
It was absolutely seamless. MakeStories offered a landscape view mode feature available on request that helped us to get an idea of the landscape version before uploading. Landscape mode required minimal customization thanks to the way the HTML/CSS is coded. We downloaded the exported package, added some customizations and after that, we just put it into the Github repository and published via Github pages.

MakeStories give you several options to publish your Story

How was your Story received by viewers?

We have received a lot of positive feedback from colleagues and partners who praised the creativity and engaging experience with this Story. The Story was posted prominently on our site in the top image slot and on social media. Additionally, the Story surfaced in Google Discover, which drove a significant amount of traffic.

How were people interacting with your Story? Did you see different behaviors on desktop and mobile?

We did not track the number of clicks. We saw that 75% of views of the English version were from mobile, but the average time on the page was longer for views from the desktop. This shows that while the format looks like mobile-first, it works on desktop as well.

Can you tell us the range and types of stories, campaigns, or initiatives you might use AMP Stories and MakeStories for in the future? 

We might use AMP and MakeStories in the future to promote our multimedia pieces where we showcase our headline stories, with fresh visual and editorial content from around the world. MakeStories is a good fit for our storytelling efforts because it allows us to quickly create a Story from scratch without the need of a developer, where the designer can create slide templates and the editors quickly edit into different languages. 

Have you produced additional Stories? If so, what MakeStories features did  you use?

After our first experience with MakeStories, we created a second Story about how climate change will affect the way we eat and all the hidden costs of unsustainable food production. For this Story, we used illustrations (and animations in some slides) to explain, complement, and clarify some of the facts in the text to create a more engaging and appealing Story. 

What would you tell other organizations about Stories and MakeStories? 

Storytelling is essential for advocating for sustainable development. As an organization that constantly produces stories and digital experiences, having a platform that allows us to create appealing and intuitive content with low effort in the production process significantly improves our efficiency and experience we offer to our audience.

Storytelling is who we are. It’s how we connect with each other. Since the first humans carved out scenes on cave walls, people have used visual storytelling to share information and experiences. The tools for future storytelling are evolving, with engaging new ways of conveying information, and users now prefer tappable stories for consuming content on the web. 

What stories could you be telling to inform your audiences and engage them in your mission? As the folks at UNDP describe, MakeStories makes it easy to create visually compelling stories and share them with the people you want to reach—in a mobile-friendly, easy-to-view, click-through format. Check out MakeStories and get started with your first Story today.

Written by Pratik Ghela, Product Manager – MakeStories