The Internet is becoming more image oriented, and Internet marketers and web designers need to keep up. This is the stark message coming from the search engines as they increasingly invest in image recognition software, from Pinterest’s purchase of VisualGraph to Yahoo’s acquisition of LookFlow. How can marketers make sure that the images they use are effective, and that they are noticed?
Humans are naturally visual creatures and will always be drawn to visual content first. In web design terms this can be divided into two categories: pictures and graphics. Pictures are there to send a message that strengthens brand. They could be photographs or cartoons, and they are there to do one of three things: (1) create a mood that the user finds appealing, (2) intrigue the user by showing something unusual, or (3) provide a point of emotional connection, such as the way in which a smiling infant might appeal to new parents on a site selling baby clothes.
Graphics, meanwhile, are there to convey information in a visually appealing way. They can potentially communicate quite complex ideas or dry facts as long as they are attractive to the eye, but the most effective ones convey information that the user can personally relate to. People are instinctively drawn to things that they think will provide them with insights into others’ behavior or their own.
To appeal to humans, images such as these need to appear above the line and they need to be large enough to be interpreted easily without any effort. If the text next to them is directly connected to the message they convey, people will start reading it to find out more. The use of sub-headings or large, bold-font quotations from the text, magazine-style, will keep readers interested in what is coming next, and the sales message can be built into the text.
When using images, it is important to make sure they are not so large – or that there are not so many on one page – that they slow downloading times. It is also important to tag the images properly with alt tags. Well written alt tags mean that people with visual impairments can still understand the page; if the tags contain keywords, they can also improve the SEO for the page.
Using pictures and graphics is simple and therefore be updated frequently, keeping increasingly attentive search engines happy and inspiring customers to come back.