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The Age of Engagement

Article by Ahmad Ktaech in Design & Illustration -

You’re kidding yourself if you think we’re still in the Information Age. There is so much information out there that if you’re like me, you spend more time going through clutter than you do relevant content. What I choose to consume has to rank high on engagement (even if it’s just for me) otherwise, what’s the point? We’re all strapped for time, we’re all mobile, and I’m willing to bet that the information age has made most of us acutely (or severely) ADD. So are you ready to come to terms with what Tara Walpert Levy calls the Participation Age?

The age of engagement Source: GettyImages

If you work in any industry (digital or otherwise) where what you create or offer eventually makes its way to someone else, the Age of Engagement should matter to you. You need to discover new ways of using design, technology and content to create and present ideas.

From a design perspective, you need to stop constraining ideas to what Luke Wroblewski refers to as the canvas. Ideas need to be medium-agnostic for them to be engaging. This translates to unearthing inventive ways to approaching information hierarchy as well as systemizing guided and disorganized user experiences.

Technology and engagement in our modern time are more intertwined than ever. From the private sector to the public sector, technology plays an influential role in engagement. There’s little doubt that we need to transition to technologies and processes that are better suited for engagement. Not only should our systems be built on the responsive philosophy, they should embrace the inevitability that scalability is not an option but a prerequisite.

As the primary cause of clutter, content and its approach, whether curated or original, needs to be re-conceptualized. The role of storytelling in engagement is hard to dispute. Great storytelling in the Age of Engagement depends on the willingness of the source to embrace participation from its audience.

Who’s doing this well online?

  • National Public Radio

    National Public Radio

    Source: NPR

    What it does really well:

    • Create a hierarchy of information based on engagement probability. Content is visible and/or hidden depending on the viewing resolution. Smaller devices require content to engage us faster.
    • Eliminate features as viewing resolution decreases - there are no social media sharing capabilities when the site is viewed on smartphones.

  • Medium



    What it does really well:

    • Focus on storytelling and the art of holding a reader’s attention. Special attention is paid to headlines, sub-headlines, and user time requirement to read content.
    • Responsive design with a purpose - content consumption is the primary focus and the design reflects the organization’s ambition to be a pioneer in this context.

  • Fast Company

    Fast Company

    Fast Company

    What it does really well:

    • A medium-agnostic approach allows the magazine to focus on the story not its frills - note how images to articles are removed as viewing resolution decreases down to a smartphone screen.
    • Engagement-driven headlines show more prominence than any other content element - a reflection of the need for experiences to captivate us quickly.