Why Graphics Matter – Part 1 (of 2)

So far in our design series of blogs, we have touched upon the concept of applying behavioral science to graphic design, and how reducing cognitive load can increase understanding, reduce myopic focus and drive home the key points you want your audience to grasp.

To catch up, check them out here:

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Today we are going to dive deeper into the visual element and explore “why graphics matter.” We utilize the concepts we will lay out in our employee communications, but the value does not stop there. Whether you are in communications, marketing, advertising, or trying to engage employees through internal Communications, this will apply to you. So, sit back, relax, and absorb.

Graphics are fun, graphics are pretty (well some are, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), graphics make information less boring – but there is far more to graphics than one might expect. When properly used graphics:

(read more on cognitive load here)

People are visual, and we experience things through this medium. Let’s get into these benefits in a little more depth:

Graphics Increase Engagement

Who wants to read a 30-page paper, size 8 font, breaking down the statistics of home ownership in America over the past 30 years with no visual stimulation? There is always an exception, so some may, but let’s focus on the majority. I personally would read the title, take note of the commitment it will take to finish, run a quick cost-benefit analysis on the migraine I will get from squinting, and move on to checking what that crazy kid from college is up to on Facebook these days (did he finally get off probation for that firework stunt?).

Now, what if you replaced some of that 30 page, size 8 font, with a graphic? Even better, what if the graphic came first, directly after the title? Instead of dryly laying out the data in a research paper format (research papers are important, but they don’t belong in employee communication), we replace the data with fun visuals like this:

Now I’m intrigued, my interest is peaked, and I may just get through the text! Your employees are busy, don’t overburden them with heavy communications that will be brushed over, or decrease their work focus; make it simple, make it fun, use graphics to pull them in, engage them, and reduce the intensity of the information!

Graphics Reinforce Ideas and Increase Understanding

In the same tone, it is difficult to verbalize the data that is represented in a graph or chart.

In our Behavioral Science and Graphic Design post we talked about how a strong brand can spark a memory, emotion, or connection based on a visual: “Creating a consistent brand, look & feel and color pallet within your design helps the audience link to understanding. If your design is part of a larger project, communication or campaign, utilizing a brand throughout the individual pieces creates a mental stamp for the audience to connect the pieces within that campaign.”

Graphics can reinforce ideas in multiple ways, thus increasing understanding.

In communication’s, you can build that visual trigger through the strong use of graphics by implementing one cohesive style throughout. The idea is that your visuals are connecting the audience to the subject at hand, through an already identified visual medium. Why explain every time you send a communication about pay that it is a communication about pay when the graphics can do it for you? Make your life easier, make your audience’s life easier and build a visual identity for your communication campaign that reinforces the subject at hand.

In addition, you can use the association that people have with an image to reinforce and add strength to something you are representing. Explaining a subject in depth can be useful but adding even a simple visual can replace a significant amount of that effort (a picture is worth a thousand words!). I could tell you that 8 out of 10 managers are communicating poorly, or I could show you this graphic:

What resonates more with you? Not only is the visual useful, but our ingrained association of red = bad, green = good is also capitalized on further reinforcing the data I am presenting.

So there we have it, graphics are important! Utilize them, and you may just make your life a little easier.

Subscribe and stay tuned for more real world applications and key insights! In part two we will be diving into the ever evolving world of emojis as we explore how graphics Clarify Tone and Interpretation & reduce cognitive load.