If you’ve ever written public-facing anything, or “copy”, as we call it in the marketing world — whether it’s an internal email or a public-facing blog post — you want to believe that people meticulously read every. single. word.
It’s more likely, though, that readers are merely skimming your content. In fact, according to research, users will read only about 20% of the text on an average page.
But there’s good news. You can convey meaning more quickly — grabbing and keeping their attention with visual content.
Use photos – the most common form of visual content!
While this may seem obvious, it’s still important enough to mention. Long sections of text can seem daunting to readers. You can alleviate their fears by breaking up those blocks of text with photos. There are tons of stock photo sites available. Many are paid, but there are free options as well. Here are just a few:
- iStock offers a wide array of photos and other visual content for a fee.
- PikWizard offers a free library of stock photography.
- Pixabay offers photos (and vector graphics, illustrations, and videos) for free.
- Unsplash offers free hi-resolution photo downloads (note that crediting isn’t required, but appreciated for this site).
Stock photos often work well, but use them carefully. While your audience may not notice the difference between a good photo and a great photo, they’ll definitely spot a terrible photo. A bad stock photo is one that is obviously fake, disingenuous, or overly cheesy. Listen to your gut, and if you still aren’t sure, check with a colleague. Avoid photos of women laughing at salad.
You can always take your own photos, as well. In this era of smartphones, most of us have 24/7 access to a high-quality camera. You don’t need to be a professional to take a great photo. There are simple steps you can take, such as cropping your photo after you’ve captured it, to make your visual content look professional and focus viewer attention.
Don’t forget Illustrations!
According to research, more than 64% of millennials say they understand information faster when it’s communicated visually, vs. just 7% who don’t. If you want to convey something very specific, that is a great opportunity to use an illustration.
There are free icons you can incorporate into a custom graphic or illustration available through TechSmith Assets if you choose to build your own. TechSmith Snagit is helpful if you want to put something together that is directly related to your topic quickly and easily.
Below is an example of a custom graphic created to illustrate the process involved in ordering video editing operations.
And then there are screenshots!
Capture a screenshot when you want to share exactly what you see on your screen. The possibilities are limitless. Screen captures can be especially helpful if you are providing instructions or when you need to describe something.
Use a screenshot to capture a software application’s user interface, explain a common error message, convert a section of an excel spreadsheet into an image, make your own meme, and more. There’s plenty of room to get creative.
What about typographic hierarchy?
Glad you asked! Don’t let the term intimidate you. Think of typographic hierarchy as approaching your text as if it were imagery. Leverage white space, bold font, italics, styles — keep it interesting!
Use different header levels–headlines, subheads, and body copy to draw attention to important parts. View the below example from Canva to see the contrast between hierarchy done well vs. not done at all.
If you are still reading, thank you! No hard feelings if you mostly just skimmed your way through, though. While most of these tips are probably familiar to you, hopefully this information served as a helpful reminder that putting a little extra time and effort into your planning phase can make an impactful difference when it’s time to distribute your content.
If you are interested in learning more about ways to leverage visual communication, subscribe to the TechSmith Blog to receive weekly updates. Download our original research data to learn more about the value of using visuals.