Visual
communication
 

Show me something interesting. You’ve got 8 seconds!

To get people to spend time on what you want to tell them, it has to look interesting!

You’ve only got 8 seconds!

attention span 280

 

Visual communication appears everywhere. You’re constantly sending signals to the people around you with your appearance, your fragrance, your clothes, your watch, your car, bike, makeup, hairstyle, facial expressions, body language ... you name it. And your surroundings do exactly the same. We are almost bombarded with visual impressions from morning to evening every day.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, our average attention span - the time that we are able to concentrate on a task without being distracted – has now fallen to a paltry 8 seconds. This figure, which has been blown up in the media, especially in the US, should however be taken with a pinch of salt. If the 8 seconds was always the case, the world would probably collapse! The truth is, of course, that we have different degrees of attention and concentration, depending on what we are doing, but the fact is that surfing the internet is one of the areas where we get most easily distracted and our attention strays. On the other hand, we can easily change gears and momentarily forget about all the other temptations - but it requires that we come across something that we think looks interesting.

So, in order to get people to spend time on what you want to tell them, it has to look interesting!

We are visual creatures.

Photo selfie by marc sebastian
Photo: Mark Sebastian

"I won’t believe it until I’ve seen it"

Visual impressions have been crucial for humankind throughout our evolution. Text has only been around for about 3,700 years, but reading text is not the way in which we most easily absorb new information.

We are visual creatures. We think and dream in images. And we remember in images. Every year the World Memory Championships are held, and a common feature shared by the winners is that they have all trained themselves to remember in images.

Research shows that people only remember 10% of what they hear, and 20% of what they read, but about 80% of what they see and do. And other studies show that retention of information is six times greater when the information is given with both verbal and visual aids than with just speech alone.

For years, researchers at MIT have been able to establish that our brains are actually able to process images that we only see for 13 milliseconds. In other words, we are able to mentally process 75 images per second.

Let the right one in by josh daniels
Photo: Josh Daniels

Therefore our sight is constantly at work, and the brain tries synchronously to understand what it is we're looking at - and decide if a particular image is worth spending more time on or whether we should look at something else.

Your choice of visual expression has undoubtedly a significant impact on your communicative success!

55% spend less than 15 seconds on a page! Many studies have been conducted about our web behaviour, and they all conclude that we are very busy. One of the most comprehensive, recent studies was carried out by the research agency Chartbeat, which analysed 2 billion visits across the web over the course of a month. 55% spent less than 15 seconds per page.

It is misleading to focus attention on the "clicks", says Chartbeat. The most important thing is to capture people's attention for longer periods - welcome to The Attention Web. Content is crucial, and this is where all the visual communication tools need to be used.

Websites – make a visual website.

The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab asked 2,440 people about how they assessed the credibility of the websites they were shown. 46.1% said that the site's design was the main criterion for assessing the credibility of the material presented.

Academic studies show that the images go directly into the long-term memory and remain there. Some things are not just easier to remember in image form, they also speak to us in a completely different way psychologically, physiologically and emotionally. Graphical tools increase the understanding, our memory and the ability to retain the information.

Images and graphics strengthen and influence our feelings and opinions – they activate our imagination and increase our creative thinking by stimulating other parts of our brains – helping to give us a deeper and more accurate understanding of the material we are presented with.

Infographics.

Find the story in statistical data, and create an instantaneous overview and understanding with visual communications.

Infographic is hot and will become even hotter in the coming years. Because when done in the right way, it makes it possible to elucidate large amounts of information in a clear and understandable way. Infographics enable you to control the communication and the form of your messages. You can insert an emotional level underneath the production - and create beautiful images or horror scenarios - and add a layer of storytelling, so you’re able to disseminate the knowledge quickly.

Video.

Video is the strongest trend in visual communication.

kino 2 video selfie by antonio malomalverde
Photo: MaloMalverde

Internet users spend 100% more time on a website that includes a video - and are 85% more likely to buy a product if they have seen a video featuring it. By 2015, it’s expected that there will be 3 billion people on the internet and that 1 million video seconds will be watched every second. Cisco has predicted that the number of video users on the network will be doubled to 1.5 billion in 2016 and that the proportion of people watching videos on mobile platforms will be 18 times higher.

So yes, it’s definitely a trend that’s worth paying attention to!

An analysis by Adroit Digital earlier this year showed the following results:

  • 56% of video users skip adverts most of the time. 24% stated, however, that the content was a crucial factor in determining whether they would skip them or not.
  • 68% said they were more influenced by a short video than a text-based advert when they were looking for new product information.
  • 46 % said that 15 seconds or less was the optimal time for a video advert. 35 % said 16-30 seconds, and 19 % said 31 seconds or more.

But to make an impactful video for a product or service is no easy task. People are critical and dash all over the place like never before with their own pictures and videos in various online forums, and competition from the likes of YouTube is huge. It has become easy and inexpensive to make videos with lots of slick technical effects, but you shouldn’t let yourself be blinded by this. The crucial factor is still to tell a good story in a precise and compelling way so that the receiver has no doubts about the message.

Storytelling is a crucial element to include in a product video, along with humour, credibility and an element of surprise - if you want to get your message across.

Remember the message in all visual communication - and the important lesson in this context: If you can’t see it, then it's not there!

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