With tech and marketing breakthroughs like augmented reality and virtual reality, it’s easy to get excited about the hottest trends in visual communication. Because of this, you may find yourself pining after a certain medium mainly because it’s popular — not necessarily because it’s the best choice for your content or your goals.
Today’s audiences are exceptionally savvy when it comes to advertising and other communications from brands. This means that even creating the Coolest Thing Ever can be a waste of your time, resources, and money if it misses the mark on communicating information effectively. Your audience will see right through it, and they won’t care how cutting-edge it is or how much you spent on it.
There are so many ways to tell a story with visual communication that we can’t get into the full decision-making process for each type in just one post. Instead, we’ll share some insights into uses for the main buckets: static, motion, and interactive.
Your audience needs print collateral: a brochure, a hard-copy annual report, a leave-behind for conferences, or even a whole conference booth! While not the only application of static content by any means (we’ll talk about static web content next), any requirement for a physical copy of your information means that static is among the right choices for you.
Static content can also be expanded to multimedia that combines both static and another medium, all depending on your needs. For example, your conference booth could be designed with data visualization, accompanied by a TV that plays a motion graphic on loop.
But what about static web content? Social media images for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. are an inexpensive way to get more bang for your buck out of your full-size design — or they can be designed from scratch. Similarly, adding visuals to your blog posts can improve shareability and engagement. The good old-fashioned web-based infographic is not dead, either.
When executed well — and created for the right reasons — static content is a solid choice for many initiatives.
Motion Graphics and Video
Let’s say you need to communicate a lot of product or service details, explain a process, or connect on a personal level — maybe even an emotional level — with your audience. All of these goals can be enhanced through the use of motion graphics. Whether all-animation or live-action video with animated overlays, motion graphics and video are a fantastic choice for communicating complex and/or emotionally charged information.
To be sure, some static content can do this through flow charts, hierarchical typography, and carefully selected photography and/or illustration. It’s just to say that depending on your specific audience and goals, video may be a better choice. Just be sure to pay attention to length — you may find yourself with a robust first-draft script, but engagement drops off after the 2-minute mark of any video. Keep it short.
Almost any audience has varying degrees of knowledge and interest in your company and its products and services. If you have a lot to say about what you do, you may find that a portion of your customers lose interest in your long-form reports and text-heavy emails. You might put out infographic after infographic to explain all the nuances of your industry, and still see people dropping off. If your audience is suffering from information overload, allow interactive content into your life.
Interactivity can give your audience the ability to filter out information based on their interests. They can choose to explore only areas of the widget, microsite, or dashboard you create so that they learn what they want to know — and what you want them to know — in a customized experience. This not only helps streamline the process of learning about your subject, but it also helps the user feel connected to the brand when compared to a homogenous experience for all users.
This can be especially useful when dealing with national or global data, where filtering information by city, state, or country condenses something that could be overwhelming into something that’s highly customizable by interest and preference instead.
By learning what the strengths of each medium are, you can help avoid costly mistakes. Even better, leave the decision about what to create to those who know the mediums best. Tell your visual communication partner as much as possible about your audience and goals; they can use this information to help you decide the right approach, so you don’t wind up simply chasing the newest one.