We respond to visuals faster than we respond to words, meaning that when we communicate visually, we’re able to take in more and communicate our message faster. Just look at social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Photos on Facebook generate more likes and comments than the average post. More than 16 billion photos have been posted on Instagram. In July of 2013, Pinterest topped 70 million users.
Visual content seems to be king. On our own website, customer testimonial videos on the homepage consistently generate increased engagement from site visitors. Photography that is authentic and real resonates with users – people want to see themselves in the story you are telling. This is especially true for our higher education clients. We’ve found that the cost of a photo shoot is well worth the investment. Our clients like Cambridge College, Northeastern School of Law, and Norwich University have invested in photography and seen it return great value with an immediate positive reaction from their users and peers.
Infographics tell a visual story quickly and effectively – this time with the help of words. Days after posting our own Infographic on the Student Lifecycle, it was featured here. For OHO, infographics are not only an efficient way to distill years of expertise into one graphic, but they also help a story spread quickly while supporting our role as thought leaders.
Words are important but visuals are currently leading the content race because they act as the hook, reeling in users. However, they must be chosen with intent and purpose in order to tell your story in an authentic way otherwise, after the click, users will promptly leave. Choosing visuals for the sake of adding a pretty picture misses the point entirely. Creative designers get this. At OHO, we consistently stress the importance of visual content and the positive impact a good visual story can have on a brand.
So, the next time you’re thinking about stock photography for your website, ask yourself if you would ever buy ‘boilerplate’ copy to describe your business versus writing it yourself. I bet that given the option, you’d always choose to write your own unique messaging. Visuals should be given the same consideration – because as you can see – they matter.
Photo credit: (OHO's own) Chase Clark