A picture is worth a thousand words. A cliché, perhaps, but still relevant. Over the last few years the importance of having imagery in your web content has grown exponentially and is now more important than ever if you want to communicate your message effectively. For example, on Facebook image based garner highest average number of interactions per post and image led social media sites like Pinterest can boast an impressive 70 million users worldwide.
But why are we more engaged with imagery?
Relatively speaking, in terms of communication, textual ubiquity is brand new. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, we are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals than text. For example, humans have an innate fondness for images of wide, open landscapes, which evoke an instant sense of well-being and contentment. Psychologists hypothesize that this almost universal response stems from the years our ancestors spent on the savannas in Africa.(1)
You’ve probably heard it before too, but with all the information overload these days it can be hard to break through the din and hold your audience’s attention. As communicators, we need to make it easier for people to grasp communications quickly and with the least amount of effort. Using imagery based content will help with this.
People think using pictures. John Berger, media theorist, writes in his bookWays of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1972), “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”
There’s also added value to imagery when it comes to online content in the form of emotional responses. It’s often been said that to make content go viral it needs to elicit a strong emotional response. Some of the primary emotions for this approach include surprise, fear, joy, sadness, disgust and anger/outrage. (2)
Photography in particular is great for this, especially when combined with a great accompanying heading for context. Take a look at these pictures below. What do you feel?
In order to get the most from your imagery, you need to know your audience. For example, taking the example of photography influencing emotions – this will work better if you understand how your audience thinks and feels. For example, showing an image of a cute animal is likely to have a lot more impact to a group of animal lovers.
It’s important to carry out proper user testing to define your audience and how they think instead of making assumptions.
Check out Unsplash – which is a great website offering royalty free photographs https://unsplash.com/