“Without images, your ideas may be lost in a sea of words, and without words, the image may be lost to ambiguity”.
This is a quote from Robert E. Horn, an award-winning scholar at Stanford University’s Center for the study of Language and Information.
Horn goes on to say:
“When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence.
Visual language has the potential for increasing “human bandwith” – the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information.”
And whilst we’re giving tribute to visuals, here are 3 statistics that reinforce the above statement:
1. 90% of information sent to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60’000 times faster in the brain than text. (Sources: 3M Corporation and Zabisco)
2. 40% of people respond better to visual information than plain text. (Source: Zabisco)
3. Publishers who use infographics attract 12% more traffic than those who don’t. The words “infographic” and infographics” are searched an average of 547’000 times per month in Google. (Source: AnsonAlex)
In this article, you’ll discover 6 highly recommended visual resources.
But before we delve into practical advice, let me put this topic into a context or, in fashionable marketing speak, let’s create a “story” (albeit a very short one).
The Business Scenario
In Lesson 3 we commiserated with business owner John about a reported low average visit duration on many of his web pages (as reported by Google Analytics).
If we asked Sherlock Holmes, his reply might well be: “Elementary, my dear Watson – you must learn how to write powerful headlines!”
But what if the reason for low visit duration was not only due to weak headlines, but also because John’s web pages are bland and boring?
Boring web pages may well make the difference between a visitor abandoning a site, or wanting to stick around for a little longer.
This being said, and you may agree with me: finding an enticing image that complements a text intelligently, is a huge pain.
Indeed, there are many free resources for stock photography out there. But I have found that digging around mediocre sites takes a lot more of my time and energy than I would like to invest.
Hence the importance of acquiring the smart approach, which starts with knowing where to go.
The right image doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s more a question of relevance, imagination and an intimate understanding of your audience’s values and beliefs.
If you get your image right, it could even be said that you better your chance of reaching your business objectives.
Because a powerful image attracts eyeballs and enhances your standing, whilst cheap looking visuals have the opposite effect: they undermine your authority and credibility, and make your website look amateurish.
There’re lots of images for sale at very reasonable prices. Starting with 3 Euros, you can get a small sized picture that will do to your website what steroids do to your muscles!
My 6 favourite image data banks.
Images: 1. iStockphoto 2. Fotolia 3. Flickr
Infographics: 4. VisualLy 5. DailyInfographic 6. Kissmetrics
Has a wide selection of stock photography at very good prices.
Similar to iStockPhoto. Hard to describe the differences between two very large banks of images, but in general Fotolia seem to have more artistic (and less corporate) images.
Flickr is equal to both iStockphoto and Fotolia, but it has different strengths. Flickr is strong on landscape and botanical photography. It also has a range of great (and unusual) images of people.
I used to be worried about doing the wrong thing regarding licensing and avoided Flickr because of that. But since I’ve understood how Flickr handles licensing issues, I am totally reassured. What’s required is to search for images under the Creative Commons Attribution license and make sure to give credit by naming and linking back to the photographer. (I have done exactly that at the very end of this article).
Navigate down this page and watch my 2 minute video which explains how to search for images with the Attribution license.
This website’s tagline is Telling Stories with Data. This is a platform and marketplace where both buyers and sellers of infographics meet and share visuals. It also provides a few simple tools that allow you to create your own infographics, if you’re that way inclined.
This is an infographic curation site. Every week day they publish a stimulating infographic based on their findings on the Internet. If you’re heavily into infographics, subscribe to their RSS feed to get a daily infographic delivered to your Inbox.
They’re a sophisticated web analytics platform. Their (wide) range of infographics tends to focus on Internet marketing. But it’s well worth a look.
Publish infographics on your site
Most infographics ask nothing more than to be shared. Some sites (visual.ly) provide an embed code. By pasting this code into your web page, the infographic will display directly on your website, without the visitor needing to click a link.
Unfortunately, not all sites make it that easy for us. If there’s no embed code, save the infographic on your computer as an image file. To do so, click with the right mouse button on the image and execute the command Save as image. Then it’s simply a question of inserting the image file into your web page.
Infographics are usually subject to the same Attribute license we discussed previously.
Please make sure you link back to the site where you found the infographic, and give credit where it’s due!
Now it’s your turn
1. Watch my 2 minute video about how to search for pictures in Flickr with the Creative Commons Attribution license. (navigate to the end of this page)
2. Select a picture in Flickr and insert it into your website. If you do not know how to do this, please leave a comment here below and request help.
3. Please view Thinking Visually – a slide presentation by David Armano. Effective communication is everyone’s job—whether you are trying to sell a concept, convince a client or simply rally people around an idea. Visual Thinking can help us take in complex information and synthesize it into something meaningful.