At first glance, this article is about 1,000 words long. Pictures are worth 1,001 words on the web, though, and this post has got six of them. So, really, it’s about 7,006 words long, right?
Okay, maybe the math there is a little fuzzy, but you get the idea. Images add a lot of value to web content. Plus, they can increase your views, engagement and sales numbers. Here are six reasons why.
They Capture Visitors’ Attention
Images are much more effective at grabbing people’s attention than plain text. In fact, neuroscientists at MIT found that the human brain can correctly identify an image in as little as 13 milliseconds. That’s crazy fast!
In today’s age of short attention spans, things that can quickly grab attention are incredibly useful. There’s more information on the web than any one person could ever use, so if your content doesn’t immediately draw them in, they may go looking somewhere else.
The average human attention span is eight seconds. That’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish, which is 12 seconds. Eight seconds is all the time you have to draw someone in and make them stay to check out your content. That’s why pictures are the answer.
RVLT, a clothing company, knows this and uses a set of large scrolling images with brightly colored backgrounds on the front page of their website. The images are eye-catching because of the bright colors and aesthetically pleasing design. They also present the company’s products in an appealing way.
They Make Visitors Want to Stick Around
Not only do pictures grab people’s attention right off the bat, but they also make them want to stick around.
People are more likely to stick around if a website is visually appealing. Why look at an ugly website when there are so many other options out there?
If a site features a variety of interesting images, scrolling or otherwise, a visitor may spend more time there to check out the rest of the available pictures if they enjoyed the first one.
Or maybe the image on a site provides just enough mystery that visitors stick around to find out what it’s all about. The homepage for Thirty Dirty Fingers, a design firm, doesn’t tell you anything about the company besides the fact that they must be a creative bunch. The strange imagery does make you want to know what it’s all about, though.
If the web content is related to a company that deals in something visual, such as clothing or art, images can be especially useful and interesting to the visitor.
They Break up Text
You may have heard that Internet users like to scan content rather than really read it. This is because it helps them to process information quickly and decide if they want to stay on the site.
Images are an effective and visually appealing way to break up text to make it easier to scan. Using images to break up text will increase the amount of time visitors stay on your website, especially if your content is high quality and appeals to those visitors. When they encounter images periodically, people will be able to quickly determine just how awesome your content is.
Even sites whose content is by nature text-heavy can use this tactic to make that content more easily accessible. This New York Times article is a great example of how breaking up written content with visually pleasing images can make something more much readable and appealing.
Customers Know What They’re Getting
Why make a web user visualize something when you can just show it to them? They will certainly appreciate the clarity that comes with detailed images, especially in an e-commerce environment.
In one survey, 67 percent of people thought that the quality of a product image was “very important” when selecting a product to purchase. Image quality beat out product-specific information, a long description and ratings and reviews in importance. Maybe a picture really is worth 1,000 — or 1,001 — words.
Sofamania, a furniture company, provides pictures on their website of its products in all the colors they come in, rather than they just telling customers about it. This makes the shopping experience easier on the customer and makes them more likely to make a purchase. Plus, it looks pretty nice too!
They Perform Better on Social Media
Images are one of the most reliable keys to success on social media. Tweets with images are retweeted 150 percent more than those without. Facebook posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than image-less content. And infographics get three times more likes and shares than any other content type.
Images will help your content stand out as users scroll their social media feeds and will get you more likes, shares and engagement. Pictures are really the golden ticket to success on social media.
Starbucks uses beautiful photos on their Facebook page that make their content more engaging, reinforces the brand’s aesthetic and will probably also make you want some coffee.
They Can Communicate Information
So, we’ve finally really come down to it. A picture on the web is truly worth 1,001 words. Yes, imagery can communicate a lot very quickly, but you can also use graphics in combination with some text to really drive a message home. That’s right. We’re talking about the famous infographic.
Infographics relay information through text overlaid on imagery, often in chart form. It can make a subject really easy to read about and digest. They’re also extremely eye-catching and shareable on social media.
Here’s an example of an infographic explaining what an infographic is. Its combination of statistics and tips, plus tons of icons, make it easy to scan and digest.
Pictures are powerful, and that’s especially true on the web. They can grab people’s attention, make them stick around and help make content easier to digest. They’ve also been shown to make almost any type of online content more popular. Anyway, I think it’s about time this article ended. It’s way above its word count limit!
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.