How many words is a picture really worth?
The proportions between the written word (text) and graphic elements in a website are an important factor to consider when designing the initial layout of the website.
image credit: Andrew Mason
Visual information is processed faster and requires less attention and time. Using pictures and graphics can be used to generate a specific emotion with the reader and enrich the design. However, there are a few technical disadvantages to take into consideration.
The downside of using images is weight and traffic. The heavier the page is, the longer it will take for the page to load. Pictures and other graphic elements weigh substantially more than text.
The second disadvantage of images compared to text is that they are not indexed by search engines. This is a big deal as driving traffic to your site is of a great importance. You can use Alt Tags to add information to images, but any text inside a picture or video, or text using special fonts, will not be scanned by the search engines.
Images can be used to emphasize text or replace it completely, depending on your message or business. There is a limit however to what can be inferred from images alone and text has a higher likelihood of being remembered later on.
So how can you decide on the right mix for your website design?
Image Credit: David Geohring
Depends on the content and purpose of your website.
Portfolio websites for photographers, designers, models etc. are usually more visual, while company websites tend to be more verbal.
It all depends on the information they wish to share. For an artist, the most important use of the website is to showcase the art and work, which will be done through pictures, galleries and videos. Text can be used for as little as a short title for the images, or be left out completely.
Law websites, resume websites, hospitality websites and so on are more likely to use text as their main mean to convey the information to the visitor. Although images are more likely to get visitors to look at them, text attracts more attention and it can be used more efficiently.
No matter what combination of graphics and text you choose to work with, make sure to design an accessible and easy to navigate website, so that once your visitors arrive they will be able to enjoy the site to the full extent. Get some tips on how to set your menu for easy navigation here.