The internet, once a massive dispersion of text-heavy webpages, has evolved into an aesthetically pleasing collection of vibrant visual content.
What’s causing this shift and why are people so obsessed with Instagram, YouTube, infographics, and other visual platforms and mediums?
According to an infographic from NeoMam Studios, the use of visual information has increased by 400 percent in literature since 1990 and by 9900 percent on the internet since 2007. It even increased by 142 percent in newspapers between 1985 and 1994. Why has content creation and distribution become so visual?
Let’s take a look at some of the science behind it all.
1. How the Brain Processes Visuals
Visual content does what no other form of content can do, succeeding in three major areas: appeal, comprehension, and retention. As this infographic points out, it only takes the brain 0.25 seconds to process visual cues. Considering that the average individual’s attention span is only eight seconds, this means visuals are able to convey exponentially more information in the same period of time.
In a world filled with numbers, figures, and analytics, trying to extrapolate meaning from dense data is often a difficult proposition. Data, on its own, isn’t very powerful or influential. However, when displayed through a visual medium such as an infographic, data becomes much more valuable.
This is something that businesses are emphasizing in 2016. Specifically, it has led to a focus on data visualization. According to an article from data visualization software company Datapine, dashboard tools are becoming new staples for progressive businesses.
To make data mining and sharing worthwhile, visualization must be a priority.
2. Color Psychology and Decision-Making
We all love colors. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a flower garden, an oil painting, or vibrant HDTV, colors draw us in and engage one of our most prominent senses. But did you know that color also plays a direct and subconscious role in our decision-making and purchase behaviors?
According to this infographic, 84.7 percent of consumers say color is the primary reason they purchase a specific product over another one. Furthermore, research shows that people make subconscious judgments about a product within 90 seconds. Somewhere between 62 and 90 percent of this assessment is based on color alone.
“Colors can have a powerful psychological effect, and there is a strong connection between color and feelings,” marketing professional Faisal Zaidi explains. “Color can evoke emotions and therefore it can change our behavior too (a red sports car can create feelings of excitement, or a blue sea can create feelings of calmness).”
It’s also true that colors have the ability to target, attract, and convert very specific types of shoppers. For example, black attracts impulse shoppers and is frequently used in outlet malls, clearance sales, and fast food. Navy blue and teal target budget shoppers and are used in banks and large department stores. Gentle colors like pink, sky blue, and rose are aimed at traditional buyers, and usually present in clothing stores.
3. Human Response to Faces
“One of the first things we focus in on when we are born is the faces of our family,” says neuroscientist Andrew Tate. “This isn’t just because they are always around in those first few weeks. The brain has a specific circuit for recognizing faces called the fusiform gyrus, or the fusiform face area.”
Whether it’s marketing, a children’s book, a billboard, or anything in between, the brain connects with human faces. If you’re trying to engage someone, you’re much more likely to accomplish your goal if you use people, rather than abstract shapes or text.
4. Speedy Understanding and Comprehension
Tate also points to an MIT study that shows that humans have the ability to understand the meaning of an image in just 13 milliseconds. That’s ten times faster than you’re able to blink your eyes. It makes sense then that we would love visuals, since they allow us to consume massive amounts of information in very short periods of time. Words, on the other hand, take exponentially longer to process.
Next time someone asks why you spend so much time scrolling through Instagram, watching YouTube videos, or skimming through vivid infographics, let them know it’s the way you’re wired. Your brain is innately programmed in such a way that visuals grab your attention and reinforce your memory.
There’s nothing you can do about it – so you might as well enjoy it!
In terms of internet marketing, blogging, and content creation, understanding and leveraging the power visual content holds over people is one of the great keys to long-term success. Keep that in mind as you move forward.