There are two dominant trends in content on the web today.
The first is that content is getting shorter. With the rise of TikTok and the ongoing importance of other social media platforms, brands need to be adept at producing shortform content.
But the second dominant trend — forgive the contradiction — is that content outside of social media is actually getting longer. As we explain in our guide to longform content, media and marketing teams are increasingly investing in longer, professionally produced content to capture and keep their reader's attention.
The main type of longform content they are investing in is the feature story. Following the lead of major news publications, these teams are creating truly engaging and immersive multimedia content.
Take, for example, Los fogones de la Kitchen. This illustrated news story from El Periódico covers an illegal operation to spy on a Spanish politician. With animations triggered by the scroll of the reader, it is an interactive and powerful example of modern feature storytelling.
In this guide, we're going to run through 7 examples of feature stories to inspire your own content strategy. These examples are informative, entertaining, and visually appealing—just what a brand needs to keep people’s attention.
We'll also cover what goes into creating a great feature story, and how to learn from those who are doing them well.
Ready to learn how to create captivating feature stories of your own? Let's get started.
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A feature story is a piece of longform non-fiction content that covers a single topic in detail. Examples of feature stories include news features, in-depth profiles, human interest stories, science communication, data storytelling, and more.
Feature stories are a common type of content for news organisations, particularly those who invest in longform journalism.
Increasingly, brands are also investing in producing their own high-quality feature stories. One example comes from analytics company RELX, who published a powerful overview of the purpose behind their Eyewitness to Atrocities app.
How are feature stories changing?
A decade ago, most feature stories on the web were visually uninteresting. Usually, they would be digital versions of print articles, with the same images and copy.
With recent improvements in internet speed and browsers — coupled with the rise of more advanced content creation platforms — we're seeing a dramatic increase in visually immersive multimedia feature articles.
These stories use a combination of high-resolution, full-bleed images, video, illustrations, and scrollytelling to sustain the attention of digital readers. Often, these stories are created with digital storytelling platforms, which are empowering feature writers to create stunning interactive content without writing a line of code.
Now, let's dive into our examples👇
When Arab News decided to showcase Saudi Arabia's UNESCO's World Heritage sites, a standard longform article wasn’t going to cut it.
So, the news agency decided to tell it as a feature story powered by digital elements like maps, video, historical pictures, and illustrations.
Each of the five UNESCO sites located in Saudi Arabia is given its own section. This room allowed Arab News the room to explain, in detail, the history of each site and what it looks like today.
Although the piece is long, it does give the UNESCO sites the space and in-depth reporting to turn this into a stunning example of a feature story.
In the 1930s, America's Federal Government enacted redlining policies that segregated Black and white citizens with homeownership.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling in 1948 that racial bias in deed restrictions was illegal, Detroit remains one of the most segregated cities in the country. To tell this important story, NBC News created an immersive and interactive feature story out of images and video to showcase the issue of segregation in modern Detroit.
The mix of data, visuals, video, and interviews with citizens who grew up in segregated neighborhoods make this feature story a compelling read.
In the race to combat climate change, the citizens of Gambia—one of Africa's smallest countries—realised that the clock is ticking.
So, the locals and family farmers living on the north bank of the Gambia river took matters into their own hands and created plans to reforest an 8,000km stretch of land.
Not only does this Pioneers Post feature story do a fantastic job at highlighting the plight of the villagers and their project to revive the environment, but it also explains the impact of global warming on their area with maps and visuals.
As a society, we are fascinated by each other's cultures. And more often than not, governments are involved in telling stories about what those cultures look like.
Women in Chinese Propaganda by the Hoover Institute takes a deeper look at how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) depicted women in the early days of its regime. Using a mix of illustrations, history, and interactive features, the reader is plunged into the story the regime told the world about how its women lived in the 1950s.
The feature story also talks about the ties the propaganda has to cultural products, like plays and operas, as well as how marriage was depicted in the early days of the CCP.
When an apartment building in La Villeneuve, France, caught fire in 2020, two children were trapped in the inferno.
As villagers watched on, the scene grew desperate—until a group of local citizens came up with a solution: the children would jump, and the citizens would catch them.
Using a mix of illustrations, photographs, and interviews from people involved in the life-saving rescue, the feature story succeeds in putting the reader inside the events that unfolded.
The story paints an uncomfortable truth: just ten days after the French President called for some foreign-born residents to be stripped of their citizenship—immigrants were rescuing children.
Another feature story focusing on climate change, WaterAid tells the story of people facing harsh environmental conditions in Malawi, Africa.
The story digs deep—using full-screen photographs, statistics, and quotes from climate change scientists about the changing environment for the people living there. WaterAid is using this piece to encourage people to fight climate change. So, it's fitting that the piece ends with a simple ask: Join #OurClimateFight.
The final feature story on our list is Sky News' celebration of WNBA's 25th season.
The story, From ‘We Got Next’ to ‘Next Steps', has a tonne of embedded items to keep the reader interested. Sky News uses a mix of embedded Tweets, photographs, and videos to showcase WNBA's history from those who have been part of it.
And like the Water Aid feature story, Sky News wraps its piece up by adding a call-to-action, encouraging readers to follow the WNBA's progress on its YouTube and cable television channels.
Content creators and news agencies have stepped up their storytelling game and are going above and beyond to capture (and keep) their audience's attention.
Slapping a 3000-word story into WordPress isn't enough to keep your reader engaged anymore (no matter how interesting the topic is.) Thanks to the rise of social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, users now expect feature stories to be more engaging and capture their imagination.
The good news is that creating these stories no longer means you have to learn how to code or hire an (expensive) developer. Content creators can build exciting, in-depth feature stories that embed elements like images, data illustrations, videos, and social media feeds using a tool like Shorthand.
So, what are you waiting for—are you ready to start creating stories that will take your readers on a journey?
Kimberlee Meier is a B2B/SaaS Content Writer who also helps start-ups fuel their growth through quality, evergreen content.