I had an odd experience the other day that prompted me to do a little research. I joined a group on Facebook and was reading the rules of the group which basically said that members were able to post links to their business’ Facebook pages and websites, but they were not to post photos and in fact, they were to erase the thumbnails that are automatically generated when you post links on Facebook. The reasoning for this according to the site’s admin, is that people would be less likely to click the link if there were photos there distracting them. Being a designer, you can rest assured, I couldn’t disagree more strongly with this assertion, which has absolutely no basis in fact.
To see just how wrong this view is one need only look at the latest social media craze, Pinterest. Pinterest is basically an online pin-board; you like an image and you pin it to your board (with credit to the author), which in turn means you’ve shared it with your followers. It’s a great way to share your interests, things that you find cool, or funny and/or your products if you are a business owner. If you haven’t heard what all of the fuss is about, then head over to Pinterest (after you’re finished reading this post of course!) and I dare you not to become addicted. That site alone is a perfect demonstration of the power of using effective good visuals. And, if I’m going to get very picky, I doubt Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg do anything for kicks; when they added automatic thumbnail creation, I’m fairly certain they had good reason for it.
Still not convinced? Fine, here are some hard facts: A study conducted by the Poynter Institute comparing the way that people read news in print and online found that:
- Alternative story forms (including Q&As, timelines, lists and fact boxes) helped readers remember facts presented to them in a test of six different prototype designs of one story;
- Alternative story forms also drew a higher amount of visual attention, compared to regular text in print;
- Short text, especially with visual elements, is accessible and attractive to readers.
When I design a website I know that certain things will be more visually appealing than others. What is 100% not visually appealing is a website that has a ton of text and no eye candy. People have short attention spans, especially when browsing the web. If they don’t find something visually appealing they are more likely to click away and leave the page, or the site altogether.
A good graphic can provide information quickly and easily and is usually more memorable than mountains of text. They can allow website visitors to see at a glance what your blog post, website, article, etc. is all about. It can grab the reader’s attention, reel them in and entice them to read your content. Without great graphics, the web would be a dreadfully boring, colourless place. Luckily for us, most people see the value fantastic graphics bring to their website and their social media profiles.
If you’d like to learn more about how great marketing visuals can help you keep your website visitors engaged, be sure to pick-up our free 5 day marketing visuals e-course.