Count on it: Graphic designers, photographers and really anyone who has the ability to use images and graphics to communicate an idea or deliver a message are poised to take over the world. It’s not that there are super-secret meetings of designer guilds plotting how they’re going to systematically run our lives, though I doubt they’d admit it if they were! The sobering reality is, they will take over because we can’t help ourselves – their skills empower content and captivate imaginations, driving a greater share of our attention to their work than content we should probably read, but don’t prioritize because it is less visually interesting.
That may seem like a bold claim, but a brief history of content delivery tells us that as early as 1960 and increasingly through the 1970’s newspapers devoted significant effort to producing compelling designs to attract more readers. Television, always a visual medium, has dramatically accelerated the emphasis on set design for distributing news and has developed creative ways to display callouts and advertisements incorporated into their existing broadcasts. As websites started playing a larger role in how we consume information, and designers were unleashed, bending and sometimes breaking website design best practices to deliver a compelling visual experience.
As people increasingly consume information via social channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, and Empire Avenue, the relative power of designers will only grow. We hear everywhere – at conferences, in webinars, online during chats – that strong visuals are driving engagement. It’s not that you get more “credit” for having a nice picture or a strong graphic – readers are just more likely to be drawn to that content. More traffic to your content increases your credibility and improves your placement on those channels.
If you want quick evidence of this trend, look no further than the design concepts being used by the above-mentioned social media to present information. Following the lead of Pinterest after explosive growth on that channel, each of the platforms mentioned above went to a more visual display format that emphasized the use of graphic elements in presenting information. If your content doesn’t have a picture that Facebook can use to preview the content, statistically speaking your content is less likely to be consumed than content with graphic previews.
I am not suggesting that your content isn’t important or that it doesn’t deserve attention. The simple fact of the matter is that the human mind responds strongly to visual imagery and we subconsciously are drawn to content that is complimented by strong visual elements. If you want people to read what you took time to produce, you need to find a way to draw attention to it or promote it. A good rule of thumb you can use is that for every minute you spend producing content you should spend four minutes promoting that content.
So what are you to do if you’ve decided to develop a website or write a blog and you have no game when it comes to graphic design? First, you have my sympathy: while I have been graced with some gifts, graphic design and photography are not among them! As with anything else, this becomes a resource issue. Do you spend money acquiring good images, find someone who can create them for you, or take the time to learn how to make them yourself? It becomes a tricky issue because Google and other organizations are working harder to identify people who illegally use unlicensed images and content. If you’re going to use another person’s picture, be sure you have permission to do so and that you credit them appropriately.
To learn a whole lot more about enhancing your marketing efforts with killer audio, video, photography, and other imagery, register now for the free upcoming Cirrus ABS seminar, “Audio, Video, and Imagery for Online Marketing.” Your presenter will be Kevin Mullett, Cirrus ABS’s director of product development and a recognized marketing and social media specialist.