Visually appealing Web content is becoming more important than ever.
The blog post is still the building block of a content marketing strategy, but visually-focused content outperforms text in virtually every situation: More of it is read, it gets more shares, and users are more likely to take action on it.
That raises a big question: What the heck happens to marketers who don’t think visually?
Human brains are primed to remember and respond to imagery – but that doesn’t mean visual thinking comes naturally to everyone. And if you find yourself feeling a little bit overwhelmed by the new requirement that everything look great, it can be tough to know where to start.
Marketers who come from a writing background often struggle with this the most. They might find themselves trying to piece together an understanding of all of design when, in reality, what they need to know is a few key ideas and techniques they can use as stepping stones.
So, how can you put together amazing visually appealing content?
It’s easier than it looks.
Five Simple Keys to Visually Appealing Content for Any Website
1. Use the Psychology of Color to Your Advantage
We’ve all read those articles that pore over the results of A/B tests to show that a green CTA button is more effective than a red CTA button. You don’t need to justify every color choice with a month of research, but you should use common color associations to your advantage.
In a previous post, we talked about popular colors to use in marketing and why they work so well. Ideally, the color choices on your site reflect a cohesive branding strategy, including base and accent colors. Colors should be consistent, but evocative of the emotions behind your brand.
2. Use Shapes – Not Just Squares
With the advent of flat design, it’s tempting to stick to simple squares as the basis of your entire site design. Sure, this can create a streamlined appearance that minimizes distractions and keeps things clean, especially for mobile users – and that might be exactly what you want.
In a world of ubiquitous color blocks, though, curves and eye-catching shapes add some visual flair. That can help you keep a reader’s attention and motivate them to scroll on through your content. Our post on the best logo shapes is broadly applicable to other design elements, too.
3. Use Contrasting Colors
Once you have a basic color palette you want to work with, you’ve got the power to use color contrasts for maximum impact. Certain elements, like calls to action, should always be used with contrasting color boxes. Items that “pop out” like this are much harder to overlook.
Luckily, you don’t have to be an art school grad to figure out which colors work together.
Sure, it can be valuable to know color theory if you’re going to be putting in lots of work on the design front. Still, convenient sites like Color Hexa will provide you with complementary and contrasting colors in a snap, as well as the different color codes you need to implement them.
4. Use People
Over millions of years, the brain has developed to focus on faces and interpret expressions fast. Our environment always has more information than we can take in, but our brains consider faces to be priority stimulus no matter where we are or what we’re doing.
With that in mind, even seeing a picture of a person’s face can create an emotional connection.
At the same time, customers are tired of boring and generic stock photography. If you want to really make the most of your hero shots – an image that helps people visualize the benefits of your offering by connecting emotionally with a “character” – you need to make them seamless.
Let’s consider some ways to do that:
Align Image Choice with Buyer Persona
Presenting people with testimonials from others like them is one of the core tenets of social proof. When you’re using imagery, you should take this literally. Whether your target buyer is an older executive or a college-aged woman, your photography should reflect relatable characters.
Naturally, you should split test imagery to see what’s most effective for your audience. Although anecdotal evidence asserts imagery with women tends to be most compelling, recent research suggests that male-focused imagery may offer you a higher conversion rate overall.
Make Directionality a Priority
In general, smiling, front-facing hero images are the most powerful. That said, you shouldn’t underestimate the reflexive urge to follow another person’s gaze. If you’re using an image in conjunction with a conversion button or sign-up form, having a figure look directly at it can be a great way to focus your reader’s attention on whatever they need to do next.
5. Combine Text and Imagery
Infographics get shared 3X more than any other content. Why? Two main reasons: They present familiar data in new, compelling ways and they’re fun to consume.
Of course, not every piece of content can be an infographic, but you can strive to combine text and images so that each piece reinforces the other. Think short paragraphs, bold headers, and large, clear charts or graphs.
Visually Appealing Content Can Bring Your Content to the Next Level
Even if you’re not planning a graphics-heavy overhaul of your entire site, it’s never too early to start thinking about all the different ways you could incorporate more imagery into your content.
Some websites have had tremendous success simply by using introductory images at the head of each blog post that give the post’s title and topic in a graphical way. Even though the exact same info is in the text, the graphics get more attention and prompt more engagement.
Plus, visually appealing posts with at least one graphic help you capture social media shares: Tweets with images get 150% more retweets than those without, while Facebook posts with images get 2.3X the engagement. Visually appealing content is worth it, so get started today!