In May of this year, I had the privilege to attend Webvisions Portland, “the crunchy granola cousin of SXSW.” Topics ranged from Twitter to physical computing, and it was a great experience. As a designer, a few of the presentations stuck out in my mind as being especially relevant to the world of interactive design. One in particular was “Too Long; Didn’t Read: The Graphication of Social Networks & Impact on Marketing Strategy.”
In it, Scott Cowley showed how social media networks are becoming more and more visual. More screen real-estate is being devoted to imagery than ever before, as evident in platforms like Pinterest (and its knockoffs) as well as Facebook and Google+. This is true especially when you compare those examples to the blogs of yesteryear, which were mostly about long-form text, or even short form such as Twitter.
As a visual person, this trend gets me excited, and not just because I like looking at pictures. And, it’s not that I don’t like to read, or that I think long form doesn’t have its place. It’s more the idea that the Internet is becoming a more visual place, like the real world. The fact that technology is becoming increasingly powerful to support image rich applications and sites is exciting; as a designer, it means more to play with. Bandwidth double every 2.4 years, with video leading the charge of the Zettabyte era. So expect this trend to continue.
This should be exciting for brands, as well. Evidence is surfacing that images in various social media outlets by brands tend to get more shares, likes, and interaction than text alone. How often do you find yourself scrolling down and watching a video, or cycling through a photo carousel in any blog or news outlet you follow? We’ve seen our own success at T1M by engaging the consumers of our clients by creating more visual content. Show, don’t tell.
As Scott pointed out in his presentation, this also puts the pressure on brands to create worthy content. This is another reason to get excited as a designer. It means more opportunities to be involved creating unique imagery and brand presence as opposed to relying on stock. And in my opinion, worthy visual content comes from a discerning, editing eye – whether that be design, photography, illustration or video.
As content creation becomes critical, designers will have a larger role to play, and that’s great; we can have more control over shaping our world.
To see Scott’s Presentation slides from Webvisions, go here.