The next time you browse a website, take a good long look at the visuals of that site. If you’ve spent quite a bit of time on the site think whether these visuals played a role in making you stay on the site a bit longer then you intended. This ‘visual pull’ happens at both the conscious and the sub conscious level because humans are visual creatures. A mammoth 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual; what’s more these visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. If you get right down to the brass tacks to the branding and marketing benefits, the chance of visuals getting shared on social media is 40 times that of other types of content. So what you are looking at is the tremendous viral potential of visuals and visual content.
This means you need to focus on visuals when building a website. Otherwise, say goodbye to any chance of branding success through your website.
The problem is not many people really understand what great website visuals are all about. Typically, the thought process goes something like this, “Hey, if the images look good and are of really high quality, we’re set.” If you belong to this group of people, sorry to break it to you, but you are NOT SET. Not in the least! ‘Great looking visuals’ are not the only parameter that boosts website engagement rates, what you need are visuals that are relevant and move the brand’s story forward. What you also need is visual storytelling.
So if you want your website to ‘fly’ and go places, get the visuals right. Here are somethings to keep in mind while you go about it.
Visuals do not act in isolation on a website. They need to be connected to one another with a theme and message. Social has picked the doughnut as the main design prop of the site and run with it. With a mix of great illustrations and animation,it’s created a warm and fuzzy site that is “sweet” and makes you want to take a better look at what it is trying to say.
Create a Sense of Mystery
No I am not talking whodunit here. I am talking about tackling a clear and present problem called –short attention span. Human beings are like goldfish. They have really short attention spans and this attention span has been decreasing over a period of time. In fact, an average user will leave a site within 10-20 seconds. This is essentially the time frame you need to work with to impress users so much so that they are compelled to extend their stay on your site. How do you do that?
What you see above are three websites that belong to diverse domains. But there is a common factor that ties them together and that is a sense of curiosity their images generate. The first is a web design agency that makes great use of images to showcase its work; the images are such that you want to click on them. The second is a PwC site that uses visual design to explain how PwC is solving complex challenges (read projects). It uses rich visual environments to create an immersive experience that a user will love being a part of.
The third is an award-winning architecture and design firm whose website uses psychedelic imagery to wonderful effect. What you want to do is browse the site for some more time, to know more about the firm’s services.
Tell a Story
How about telling a story? Wondering, how do you tell a good story? Do what these brands are doing with their websites:
Storytelling is all about telling a story, simply. Do not complicate the process with the use of images that have no relation to the story. Remember every story has a beginning, middle and an end. Follow that format in your visuals. Use a format that is direct, self-explanatory and explains the who, what, when and why seamlessly. If you don’t try too hard, you will actually be able to come up with a great story idea.
The Direct Approach
When you make a website, your key concern is ‘messaging’. I’ve talked about how you can lure in users to increase their engagement with your site; you tell a story, arouse curiosity and so on and so forth. But there is another much simpler way of ensuring users are prompted to know more about your site – use the direct approach to make your point. Don’t beat round the bush. This is imperative in case of corporate/products based websites, but this approach can be used on any site.
The visuals of these sites are making an immediate point. There is actually a sense of immediacy about them, even if it is not overtly evident. They are saying, “alright, we don’t want to waste your time, so let’s get started shall we?”
When you are thinking website visuals, it’s hard not to get impressed and inspired by what some of the other brands are doing. But, it’s important to take a step back and remember the choice of your website’s visuals will be dependent on your brand, what it does, brand messaging and your budget. Yes, the last is the key. Website creation is like a bottomless pit; the more money you spend (intelligently, of course), the better your website and its visuals. So, your job is to decide how you want to go about picking your visuals. Fix a budget and don’t break that budget. Make it your redline and work within it. There is no substitute for creativity and originality. Get inspired, but don’t copy.
So, that’s it then. These tips might not help you create an extraordinary site but will definitely enable you to create a site that is not ordinary. This is important, because you need your website to not only grab eyeballs but also ensure the eyeballs remain on the site for a sufficient period of time.
Aigars is CEO and founder of Colorlib, a company that develops website templates, WordPress themes and is behind several best-selling products. He has been in the web development for 3 and internet marketing for 7+ years and that’s just the beginning.