The web is still word-based. No matter where you go on social media, the conventional internet, news sources, forums, or otherwise, text is how most information is communicated. It’s unlikely that text will be absent from our lives for generations to come, but its importance and role is evolving in the digital world we interact with every day.
Today, images are a kind of shorthand for deeper text explanations of concepts and news items. They’re a way of breaking up the monotony of a page of text, but it does so much more than that.
- Images Catch the Eye. Strong images are the hooks that draw in readers, viewers, and users. Without strong graphics, your piece of content will likely be overlooked. We’ve seen the shift from text to graphics very profoundly in the world of Facebook during the past couple of years.
Today, news articles are reduced to captions over video and animation. The visuals tell the story – the text clarifies. Without an engaging primary image, it’s likely that the user will just scroll past the content without stopping for a second. Using more vector graphics and other images, especially interesting ones of good quality, is a way of stopping a user in their tracks, to get their valuable clicks and viewing seconds.
- Images Involve the Emotions. Prose is the classic way to evoke strong emotions, but it takes a great deal of time to complete this ritual. If your readers have only a couple of minutes to take in the content you are communicating, they probably aren’t going to thoughtfully reflect on your long-winded explanation.
The better thing to do is to find images that communicate the essence of your story, even as the text wrings out the nuance. Images and come from all kinds of sources, and video is proving to be especially effective in this regard. But Instagram and other SMs have proven that static images can be just as arresting. Whatever you choose, it must be relevant and striking.
- Images Get Clicks. Images are an invitation to have a deeper experience. Often paired with a simple headline, an image is intended to give a sense of what lies beneath. If it is well chosen, it will stoke the viewer’s appetite to learn more about the thing that the headline touches on.
Headlines and associated images are of equal importance, and it’s hard for the job to get done if one or the other is failing.
This article isn’t meant to downplay the role of good writing and design in your content. It’s meant to remind you of the importance of the image, one which seems to be growing all of the time. People tend to have very instinctive reactions to images, even more so than to good writing, which is one reason why they are continuing to take over the way we ingest information in the digital age. This isn’t going to change anytime soon, so get aboard the image train and make it work for you.
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