According to Pew Research Center, 28 percent of online adults use Pinterest and 26 percent use Instagram. Additionally, YouTube reports that they currently have over 1 billion users. What these types of statistics tell us is that we are slowly becoming a more visual society in our online experience, relying more heavily on pictures and other graphics to educate and engage us as opposed to when computers first came out and we used them primarily for reading articles and reports we couldn’t ordinarily get with such ease.
The search engines have picked up on this trend as well which is why they tend to prefer graphics over text alone. This means that you’ll find yourself higher up on the results list simply by adding one or two images to your online content. This drives more traffic to your website, blog, or online store, and it does it in a way that doesn’t require continuous work.
Add these two things together and it is clear that graphics are a great way of helping you more effectively reach your target audience. Now, I must admit that when I first started using graphics, both for my own personal business as well as when designing PowerPoint presentations for my clients, I was very intimidated by them.
After all, how do you know which ones to use and when? I questioned which graphics would be more appealing to my target market, and was concerned what would happen if I choose images and designs that were not. It was exhausting to say the least.
If you’ve ever had this type of angst, then it is time for you to relax because I have done some research, as well as some work in the field and, as a result, have some pointers that may help when working on your next graphically-enhanced presentation, blog, or web page. The only thing you need to do before we begin is decide why you want to use the graphic—to simplify or condense information, to compare or correlate, or to command attention.
Graphics that Simplify or Condense
Graphics can be wonderful at taking complex ideas and making them more understandable. They can also take a lot of information and condense it in a much less overwhelming form. That is why so many companies use infographics nowadays. This one simple tool can help make whatever difficult or lengthy information they are trying to share simple enough for the average viewer to comprehend.
For instance, The American Institute of Stress offers an eye-opening infographic titled “Stress Is Killing You” on their website. This particular one takes a lot of stress-related statistics and uses a variety of different style and sizes of balloons to highlight the effects that stress has on you mentally and physically.
Daily Infographic has several others on their site that tell you everything from “How To Become a Google Power User” to “The Recipe For The Perfect Logo.” Therefore, you may want to go through them and get an idea of what types of styles are available for use, possibly even inspiring you to create one for your online viewers.
Graphics that Compare or Correlate
If you want to use graphics to help your audience compare two or more items or to assist them with correlating certain facts, some of the graphics you may want to use include graphs and charts. This is one of the best ways to share this type of information in a memorable, yet non-boring format.
Here is a quick guide to help you decide which type of graph or chart to use based on the information you wish to present:
- Tables. Use these when you want to share precise facts or figures for comparison or correlation. For example, you may want to create a table that shows your product specs compared to other brands on the market, making it easier and more convenient for you viewer to see that you are the best choice.
- Bar Charts. Use a bar chart to compare quantities. For instance, this particular chart may come in handy if you are trying to point out how your consumer needs much less of your glass cleaning product when compared to your competitors, showing that it is better for the environment. Or, you could also use it to visually share that you have a higher customer satisfaction rating.
- Line Charts. A line chart is used to show changes over time. Therefore, if you want your customer base to see how your client list has tripled over the past three years, a line chart is a great way to do it.
- Pie Charts. Pie charts show portions of a whole, which make them great for sharing the break-up in demographics of your users or to show results to the latest poll your customers took part in.
- Gantt Charts. A Gantt chart tracks completion of a project over a specific period of time, making it easier for your customers to see when your new store is set to open or when you intend to grow your business to other geographical areas.
- Maps. Use a map graphic if you are comparing or correlating various regions. This could be helpful if you’re comparing your customer base on a specific aspect and want to show how it relates to the area in which they live.
Graphics that Command Attention
Sometimes you aren’t using graphics for the purpose of providing data, but rather to command the attention of your audience. For example, let’s say you are making a presentation about the dangers of smoking and you want to drive your point home. To do this, you may decide to use pictures of black and tarry lungs, or even images of a person that has to use a voice box since theirs was removed due to smoking-induced lung disease.
Or, perhaps you just want to break up a long and in depth presentation so that your audience doesn’t get bored to tears. In this case, you may want to throw in some graphics to help get their attention back and keep them involved. Some presenters use this as an opportunity to show their humorous side by inputting a funny little cartoon or quip, just to engage their audience and keep their eyes and brains on the information being presented.
One Word of Caution
Graphics can certainly help in a number of ways, but before you set out to use them all over your website and other marketing content, let me leave you with one word of caution. Be sure you choose graphics that complement your presentation or content and not ones that lessen or cheapen it in some way.
Therefore, if you aren’t sure how to tell the difference, you may be better off hiring a professional to take care of your graphic design for you. If you don’t, you may end up doing more harm than good.