Conversion rates increase with images

Prominent images equal higher conversion rates, according to a report by Econsultancy, a digital marketing and e-commerce community.

The report focuses on three websites with differing audiences and purposes. The first, an antique shop called Skinner, increased the size of the photos of items up for auction by 28% and saw 63% more visitors joining the auction along with 329% more visitors completing their online forms.

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What’s interesting about the choice to enlarge images is that it seemingly breaks one of the big rules of design: don’t put anything important below the fold. This below-the-fold design is also in use at Fast Company’s web publications such as Co.Design and Pop Sugar’s Geek Sugar. Commerce and publishing are fueled by visual content. Part of Pinterest and Wanelo’s success is due to their understanding of the importance of visual design. It shows that the important aspect of design isn’t the text but the images – they pull people in at a much higher rate to consume to rest of the content.

Another website the report looked at is Dell. The company shifted the design of one of its B2B landing pages to feature a large blown-out image as the background - effectively using the power of photos to drive interaction. The change paid off with a 36% increase in generated leads and inspired Dell to test out the design on its other B2B sites. Dell showed that the appeal of visual content doesn’t start and end with consumer-facing products.

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So what is it about images that cause such large shifts in interaction and engagement? A part of it may be that they are processed by the brain 60,000 times faster than text. Another factor is the need for visual content in e-commerce to make up for the lack of in-store experiences. Whatever the cause, the effect is obvious: when trying to increase conversion rates, visual is king.

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Redesigns Veer Towards the Visual

Following on the heels of Facebook’s news feed update, The New York Times has announced their own site redesign. The new layout pulls inspiration from app design with sliding components for commenting and section selection. But the change that stands out the most is the focus on photography.

The top of the page features one large image and a headline with thumbnails and headlines lining the top of the page. These visuals are used to keep users on the NY TImes’ site, increase clicks, and help to tell richer stories.

The New York Times and Facebook aren’t alone in launching visual-focused redesigns. This week, Rdio launched the new layout for their app which also follows along with the visual theme with cover art as the focal point.

We know that web designers are switching to more visual formats, but why? Sure, it’s prettier, but what does this new aesthetic stem from?

Evidence over the past few years has shown that visual content does better than text alone. On Facebook, posts with photos and videos drive the most engagement. Pinterest is winning the e-commerce side of social media because of its visual-focused layout, which is why Ebay revamped their layout to mimic them. Visual design stems from the visual revolution’s ability to attract more attention, traffic, and therefore revenue.

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Leaving the Text Behind, a wedding inspiration platform, recently released a stunning update for their website with one specific stand-out change: other than the top header, the page is completely devoid of text.

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The site works similar to Pinterest with users able to save inspirational photos, dresses, and ideas to various bundles to help in the wedding planning process. It’s the wedding binder for the digital bride.

This growing trend in visual-focused design can be seen at blogs like PopSugar and Co.Design where the featured images are placed at the top of the page.

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Users like and interact more with photos than with text. That’s part of the reason Pinterest is winning the e-commerce battle while Facebook is struggling to get a foothold. Text is now secondary content. It’s the visual content that really drives clicks and interaction.

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3 Visual Revolution Tips

February 26, 2013 Add Comment Monica Watson

Every Wednesday, we highlight some of the great work brands and publishers are doing in the visual revolution. But how do you join in? Well, we’ve put together 3 tips to make it all clearer.

1. It’s not only about the visual

Design is powerful. It’s what fueled much of Apple’s success and what has lead to Nest reinventing the thermostat. But the visual revolution is about more than just photos and videos. It’s about being social, engaging, and instant. Oreo’s much-lauded blackout Tweet from the Super Bowl combines all of these factors, and it ended up being a massive success.

Furthermore, the visual revolution is user-driven with the content created and inspired by the audience. The emergence of mobile technology and constant internet access is what has lead us to the surge in photography, and now most of the photos being published today comes from amateurs posting on social platforms. Don’t ignore the social aspect.

2. Know your audience

Once you know who your target audience is, get to know them on a more personal level. What do they reblog on Tumblr? What do they Tweet about? Interact with them and get to know them. If you’re just putting out content with no end-user in mind, then you’re just yelling into the void. Give people content or a campaign that enriches their life in some way, evokes an emotion from them, and is useful to them.

For example, look at how Chobani uses their Pinterest. Many of their customers use Chobani to lead a healthier lifestyle, and the yogurt company’s pins reflect that – from photos of healthy food to inspirational quotes.

3. Understand the power of the hashtag

The hashtag is the modern-day water-cooler. It’s the hub for any conversation and interaction, and it can bring a whole new audience to your company if used well. Make sure that when someone clicks or searches your tag it’s easy for them to know it’s about you. This means choosing a unique tag and being active in it. Really own your hashtag and help guide the conversation through interaction.

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A favorite example comes from Celebuzz. Their Chute-powered Lady Gaga photo contest had people using the hashtag #BuzzThisWay to submit photos on social media. This one simple hashtag was able to get across the theme of the campaign and also the Celebuzz brand.

What tips do you think brands and publishers should keep in mind? Join the conversation with #VisualRevolution.

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