New on timelines and Google maps

University Communications has developed two new ways to tell stories on the Web: feature templates that integrate Google mapping and an interactive timeline, giving Ohio State new ways to tell location-based and time-based stories.

We first used the map to tell the story of
Ohio State students who spent summer “break” on research, study abroad and service projects around the globe. More recently, we shared the stories of grad students and recent alumni who were awarded Fulbright grants—a different way to celebrate the university’s high rankings in The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Top Producers list.

Users can interact with the page in two ways: by clicking headshots for specific stories or by navigating around the map. The stories also feature text that puts the interaction into context; in the Fulbright piece, we used page text to share bragging points about Ohio State’s rise in the number of Fulbright winners we produce.

The timeline, on the other hand, is a natural way to tell stories with a time element. To kick off football season, we created a look back at
Brutus Through the Years, showing our mascot’s evolution from 1965 to today. The timeline is a natural for sports stories and features with archival imagery. We also have plans to tell more traditionally academic and research stories, which we’ll share as they come together.

Why did we do it? First off: It was fun! And fun helps “sell” our most important messages. It’s also a way to give users more to do on our pages—which we hope will translate into their spending more time on (Early “Brutus” users spent an average of 4:06 minutes on the page—way above the average of 2:58. Users from spent a whopping 6:57 on the page.)

How did we do it? Teamwork. The mapping project required brainstorming and work across teams: photos and editorial content from Editorial Communications and web design and development from Interactive.

Want to know more? Mark your calendar. We’ll be discussing these pages—and answering your questions—at an upcoming UC Academy.