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Story Power! Tools to Create Engaging Content

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In an previous post I showed you how to create more engaging content which is fun to read and easy to memorize: If you haven’t read this article yet go and check it out first: Story Power! Brain-Friendly Content through Visuals and Storytelling.

In this follow up post I will show you some tools you can use to create visuals that allow your readers to "get" something as quickly and clearly as possible.

Stock Photography

It is much more effective to use pictures and words than just words alone.

Stock Photography

Thanks to web sites like iStockPhoto, you can get just about any image you can imagine for a couple dollars. If you use the image just on your web site you can get away with the lowest resolution/least expensive version of the photo. Here are some examples where I used stock photography to make content more appealing: Eagle or Seashell?, Fly like a Penguin!, Juggling Five Balls Of Life, Find What You Love.

Comic Strip Tools

Just take a look at the Google Chrome Comic book with artwork by Scott McCloud to understand the power of comics to transport information.

Comic

ToonDoo, KerPoof and Bitstrips are all examples of free tools you can use to create your own comic strips.

As per ToonDoo’s terms of use, you are free to use any cartoon created by you as long as you include title, author name and ToonDoo watermark. When those  mandatory elements are included, you are free to embed ToonDoo‘s or screenshots.

I used the excellent ToonDoo Maker to create the comic strip for the Designing the ULTIMATE Twitter Client article.

Chart, Sketch & Wire Frame Tools

I love wire frame tools. They allow you to sketch an idea as quickly as possible without worrying about the visual design.

Mockup

For user interface related mockups try Balsamiq Mockups. You can see it in action in the following articles: About bSix12, Put First Things First, Designing the ULTIMATE Twitter Client

You can also try Lovely Charts. It is a free online diagramming application, that allows you to create professional looking diagrams of all kinds.

Drawing & Photoshop

You can create your own visual by using an image editing software like Photoshop and a drawing tablet like the Wacom tablet. For more detailed information read Kathy Sierra’s excellent article about how to add graphics to your blog, book, or presentation.

For the following article I used Photoshop to create a visual that helped me bring the point across: UI Platforms: Which One Would You Pick?

Videos & Screencasts

YouTube is the most popular video sharing website where you can upload and share videos. If you want to use a video, you can embed it into your own web page or blog. On this blog I use embedded YouTube videos a lot. There are some excellent videos hosted on YouTube to learn from.

Here are some examples of featured YouTube videos on this site: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, The Inspiring Story of Rick and Dick Hoyt, Time Management, Find What You Love.

We learn a lot by watching other people doing things. This is why screencast’s  are a powerful learning tool. It is like looking someone over the shoulder and learning from that persons experience. My favorite tool to produce screencast’s is Camtasia Studio.

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