March 31, 2021
The marriage of words and pictures (and how both affect user experience)
This blog has an image above it.
And that carefully curated and designed header image accents
and complements these words. An image that gives you a taste of what these
words will be discussing. There are even words incorporated over the image.
Why do we need both images and words in a blog post? Why,
for that matter, do we need both images and words in any webpage?
The answer is three-fold. Let’s explore.
1. Words impact SEO
When designing a page to optimize its search engine
performance, the first thing most marketers do is keyword research. Short-tail
or long-tail, doesn’t matter—you can’t have “keywords” without “words.”
But that just makes sense. Words are information, and a
search engine’s job is to provide the most accurate information as quickly as
All the words, then, are crawled and scrutinized by search
engines. To appear higher on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP), all the words must
inform and support the keywords. They have to be relevant.
But words are not alone. As stated before, they are normally
paired with images.
2. Images impact SEO
Images impact SEO in two unique ways: user engagement and
page load time.
According to Anjan
Chatterjee (Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania), “. . . The
brain responds automatically to beauty.” Your brain is evolutionarily
programmed to respond to beautiful, impactful images. Professor Chatterjee also
found that beautiful images can activate movement centers in the brain, causing
the viewer to move closer to those images.
Yes, that’s right: images can actually elicit a physical
response from users, increasing their level of engagement to the information
presented. This keeps a user on the page exploring the images and words, and
can also prompt visits to other pages on the site. Search engines monitor this
Images also greatly affect page load times. We’ve known for
some time now that Google,
for example, uses page load time as one factor in determining page rankings. Images
are quite often the culprit in longer load times.
An oldie, but oft-quoted, goodie: research from Aberdeen
found that one extra second in page load time impacts page views by 11%,
conversions by 7%, and customer satisfaction by 16%. Images, therefore, must be
optimized, so pages can also be optimized to load faster.
By engaging users and contributing majorly to fast page
loads, exceptional images can give SEO a visual (pun intended) lift.
3. Words and images together
impact the user experience
The marriage of words and images (and, by extension, visual
design) is the face of the user experience. Users read the words and look at
the images, and their intertwining sensory impact affects every aspect of the
user’s interaction with your company, message, and product.
Give users a better experience and they’ll stay longer on
your site, digesting even more of your content. They will trust you as an
information source and become a repeat visitor. They will subscribe to your
newsletters, engage with your company, and (hopefully) share with others.
Not only will those shares organically spread your reach (70% of people
trust shares from friends and family, while only 15% trust messages direct from
a company), they also send signals to search engines. And those search engines
will analyze these new statistics and connections, and boost your ranking on
And then video, the next-level union of words and images, turns
the advantages of all these SEO and user experience rewards up to eleven.
But, that’s a story for another day.