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3 Easy Tools for Creating Interactive Images

By Dan Mason

People love pictures. That’s why including a strong image in every post is so important if you want to grab a reader’s attention and boost your story’s chances of getting shared on social media.

But pictures can go beyond supporting a good story to become the interactive star of the show. Take a fresh look at the power of pictures with these three easy tools …

1. Panoramas

 


 

Panoramas can add a whole new level of interest to images of sporting events, dramatic landscapes, conferences or protest marches, bringing the viewer into the heart of the action.

Your smartphone and camera may well have a panorama shooting mode built in. But what you really need is a tool that makes it easy to capture and upload high-quality panoramas, make them easy to discover online and share across social networks, and allow embedding on your website or blog.

Dermandar does all that with style.

Dermandar

Once you’ve signed up at dermandar.com, you can upload a series of overlapping images taken with your camera and Dermandar will automatically stitch them into a panorama that looks great viewed full screen, with navigation and zoom using your mouse. It’s free.

The magic really happens when you download the DMD Panorama iOS app (£1.99 + in-app purchases) or DMD Panorama Android app (55p for the ad-free version) on your mobile. Capturing a panorama is a simple matter of holding your phone upright and panning gently around. After previewing the result, tap the upload button to send your panorama to the Dermandar website. A £1.49 in-app purchase for iOS users displays panoramas in high definition.

When posted to Facebook, the panorama helpfully plays like a video, rather than asking you to click a link, while on the Dermandar website, the Embed button brings up the code for your website or blog.

Dermandar embed code

2. Thinglink

Thinglink is a brilliant free tool for annotating images (or maps) with links, images, video, text or audio. Its uses are only really limited by your imagination.

The genius of Thinglink is its simplicity. After signing up for ThingLink, upload an image from your computer or import via Facebook, Flickr or URL. The maximum image size is 25MB and images are scaled to 1024px (or less, depending on embed size). You can use any size image, but I suggest you use an image at least this width in roughly 16:9 widescreen format (1024×576 minimum).

Then it’s a simple matter of clicking on the image to add a tag, choosing an icon and adding a media link and text. You can also search for media from the ThinkLink dashboard, but I find it easier to find links through YouTube, Soundcloud Google Search and so on.

As with Dermandar panoramas, it’s easy to grab the embed code from a public ThingLink.

3. Tagxedo

For creating classic wordclouds, to be downloaded and used as an image, you might find it easier to start with Wordle. But for something more interactive, head for Tagxedo.

There’s no need to sign up to use Tagxedo and from the home page you can create a word cloud by inputting a Twitter handle or webpage URL. Most of the time, you’ll hit the Create button, taking you to the Tagxedo dashboard (unless you see an alert telling you that you need to download and install the Microsoft Silverlight plugin).

Tagxedo has its quirks, you’ll find, and interactive images can take longer than ideal to load, but the results can be impressive and engaging.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Dylan Thomas, here’s a classic wordcloud with the words from one of his most famous poems, Do not go gentle into that good night.

Do not go gentle into that good night wordcloud

To create it, all I had to do was copy the poem, tap Load in Tagxedo, paste in the text and click submit. There are options to change the shape, font, orientation and colour of your word cloud, as well as add your own colour theme and tweak the way text displays.

Tagxedo dashboard

You have the choice, by clicking the Save and Share button, to save your wordcloud as an image, link to the interactive version online or copy the embed code to display the interactive word cloud on your own website.

Now for a Tagxedo embedded on a web page. I’ve taken the three last paragraphs of Neil Kinnock’s historic speech to the 1985 Labour conference – Tagxedo is a great way to visualise speeches, highlighting the words repeated most often – and this time uploaded an image of Neil Kinnock. Here’s the result:

OR link to online version.

One word of warning about Tagxedo. Once you’ve hit the Save and Share button, saved your word cloud as an image or grabbed the embed code, and closed your Tagxedo, there’s no way back to edit it. So make sure you save an image as well as the links and embed code.

This Resource page was written by Dan Mason, a journalist, media consultant and trainer, specialising in digital communications and social media. Dan trains all over the world and delivers the NUJ’s social media training in Wales.

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