Our brains crave images! Here’s how to pick the right visuals for your content.
Imagine you’re surfing the web and you come across a page with huge blocks of text and no images. Within nanoseconds, your brain tells you this will be painful to read. And because there’s nothing that commands your immediate attention, your desire to read the page shuts down
Now imagine that same page has a picture of a beautiful field of wildflowers nestled at the base of a snow-capped mountain, or a beautiful plate of mouth-watering, ultra-rich chocolate decadence cake. Just imagining the images makes your brain perk up.
I’ll say it again: our brains crave images. Images stick in our long-term memory. Images transmit messages faster. Images improve comprehension.
"It’s a visual world and people respond to visuals."
– Joe Sacco
Stimulate brains with visuals and you’ll grab more attention.
If you’re creating content without images, you’re missing a huge opportunity to increase reader engagement, reach a wider audience, and maximize conversions. Visualized information has increased bigly (finally a place where that word works) – by 9900% on the Internet since 2007. That’s one of the reasons Instagram has over 400 million active users every day, and why Pinterest has seen an over 900 percent increase in unique users since its inception. It’s also a why infographics are yuge. Check out this interactive infographic (say that 5x fast!) from NeoMam studios if you’re not convinced.
People are visual and we’re inherently drawn to content that contains rich, attractive images.
90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000X faster in the brain than text. That’s why your content needs images. But you can’t just slap any visual into your content and expect results. Images need to add true value to your content. The visual content must support the text and vice versa. Don’t overload content with visuals, either. A few visuals bring attention to your content, but too many visuals make it hard to digest. Even worse, page loading may be an issue if you have too many visuals, and people aren’t all that patient. Overload with visuals and you’ll lose them before they read anything you’ve written.
Your visuals should simultaneously grab your reader’s attention and further the story you’re trying to tell.
When you’re adding visuals to your content, consider these three questions:
- Is the image engaging? Not just any image will do. A blah one won’t engage people, and unless there’s a compelling reason to do otherwise, use color. Research from Xerox says color increases readers’ attention spans and recall by 82%. Color also reduces search time by as much as 80 percent. Plus, information can be located 70% faster if it’s in color.
- Does the image fit your brand? Everything you put out there should enhance your brand and tell a story about your company.
- Does the image convey your message? Don’t mess with your reader’s head and try to bait them into reading an article with an image that’s unrelated. You’ll have better engagement if you stick to an image that contributes to your reader’s understanding of your message. Period.
"A visual image is a simple thing, a picture that enters the eyes."
– Roy H. Williams
Where do you find great images?
You have two choices: create your own visuals or use stock images. Original photography can set you apart from your rivals and build a stronger brand, but creating original images can be time-consuming and expensive. Most brands rely on a mix of original and stock images. Stock photography has come a long way, but they’re still…well…stock images. Use a discerning eye and keep the questions above in mind when you select them. Shutterstock,123rf, iStock from Getty and Pixabay are a few of our favorites.