Storytelling is a major component in every marketing campaign. Even short television commercials have a story if you pay close enough attention. For example, commercials for laundry detergent often tell the story of kids getting their school clothes dirty playing outside. Their parents wash their clothes, the stains disappear, and the kids look great when they’re sent off to school.
When television commercials first launched, the storyline consisted of a speech telling consumers what the product would do for them. These stories quickly evolved into a visual representation to show, not tell, the consumer what the product does. Today, marketing stories are fully scripted scenes. The power of visual storytelling is no longer a secret.
Here’s how to tap into that power for your website:
- Plan the story you want to tell first
Each page you build has the power to tell a different story. What do you want your visitors to get from your content? What emotion do you want them to feel? Plan your intention for each page and then choose imagery that supports that intention.
- Use visuals proportionately to your content
Blogs are the digital version of storytelling. You can tell any story you wish on a blog, and you can add multiple images to help tell your story. However, in an age where attention is scarce, less is always more. That applies to content as well as imagery.
Visuals should be used as a supplement to your content. Unless they’re the main attraction (which is rare), your images should be moderately sized and should not take over the page.
People mistakenly believe gigantic images will capture attention better. However, it’s the content of the image that captures attention, not the size. Many users find that gigantic images hinder their ability to navigate the site, especially when using a mobile device.
- Make sure your content matches your images
Since images are generally displayed as headings to your content, the title you use for your content matters. For instance, a simple image like this house wrapped in a knitted scarf with an overlaid dollar sign conveys an immediate message: keeping your house warm costs money. Coupled with the title, How To Save Money on Your Heating Bills, the image represents a solution to the problem.
Remember that people will interpret images according to what they’ve already stored in their memory. Images may not appear ambiguous to you, but to many users, they’ll evoke different, even unexpected ideas. To counteract this, use your titles to sway a person’s interpretation of basic images.
In addition to titles, the words you present next to your images can alter the interpretation of those images.
- Leverage the psychology of visual processing
Science says 20% of the brain is used purely for vision. The visual cortex, located at the back of the brain, processes visual information and sends it out to all other areas of the brain. This information is then combined with other sensory input and stored as memory.
Visuals are also processed much faster than text, making visual input the most efficient way to get a message across to others.
Studies have proven that web users only give text about fifteen seconds before bouncing. Eye-tracking studies show that web users pay more attention to images that carry information, like infographics. When the images on a page are relevant to the content, users spend more time looking at the visuals.
That’s why some of the world’s most brilliant marketing campaigns are stunning visuals.
- Use video marketing sparingly
If you rely on a website to sell your products or services, visual storytelling is going to be your biggest ally. Despite what you may believe, you don’t need to create elaborate videos to get messages across visually. It takes skill to create and present engaging videos, and if you aren’t able to spend long periods of time learning this art, it’s better to skip it for now.
- Hire a freelance graphic artist to create custom images
Stock photos are a dime a dozen, and by now, we’ve seen them all. Telling a powerful story through images requires custom design work. Nobody wants to look at images of people staring at stock charts and financial graphs.
Custom designs can pinpoint the finer details you want to convey to visitors. It requires a small investment, but it’s worth every penny.