We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
According to research, this statement holds more truth than your typical pithy aphorism. In 2013, a study done by the Adobe Social Intelligence Report stated that Facebook posts with images had a 10 percent impression increase from previous years, which was predicted to escalate in following years. This prediction was proven true, and today, when you take a quick scroll through your Facebook timeline, you’re likely to see many more pictures, memes, GIFs, or videos than text. People have come to the conclusion that these visuals are simply more effective.
On top of that, it was found that posts containing photos created a 650 percent higher engagement rate than posts with just text. This is likely because we can comprehend the gist of a graphic in under 1/10th of a second. That’s less time than it took you to read this sentence. To put it simply, we humans are more interested in aesthetically pleasing information that’s easy to understand, as opposed to a big block of text which we are likely to skim (at most) and must put in more effort to comprehend.
Understanding how humans process information is the first step in creating effective messaging. People tend to remember pictures much easier than they remember text. This is due to the fact that nearly half of your brain works to process visuals such as charts, illustrations, pictures, infographics, etc. And, almost ¾ of your sensory receptors are located in your eyes. Thus, the connection between sight and memory is second to none. When information is broken down into simple pieces and graphically displayed in a way that is attractive and in a way we can firmly grasp, our brains can’t help but to counter “information overload” and begin processing it at a much easier rate. If you need even more proof that visuals are the way to go, studies show that people remember 80 percent of what they see and do, as opposed to only remembering 10 percent of what they hear and 20 percent of what they read. This makes it strikingly evident that visualizing concepts is essential in getting a point across, especially when it’s complicated information.
With the mass amount of information we subconsciously consume each and every day, it’s critical to produce content that a reader can digest in small, logical chunks. As communicators, it’s our job to organize information this way if we want to be successful. Imagery is stored in our long-term memory and also guarantees that a clear, consistent message is relayed. When a graphic is shown, there’s less wiggle room for different interpretations, unlike a body of text.
For example, let’s say you and your friend both read a book that is eventually turned into a movie. You read the exact same text; however, you probably have drastically different ideas of what the characters look like, how the houses appear, etc. If a visual is shown right off the bat, it creates consistency across the board. This is crucial for communicating in today’s society where everything is rushed and people want information as fast as possible. It may take a little extra time to come up with an engaging graphic that makes sense to the reader immediately, but it’s sure to pay off in the long run.