Are you settling for a generic image?

Nothing communicates like an image. But settling for a generic image can actually have the opposite effect we’re looking for.

The web is becoming increasingly more visual. Smart phone cameras and free-to-use photo sites make it easy to add a picture to your post.

Getting visual is smart. Research has shown that visuals communicate much quicker than words ever could.

Unfortunately, since photos have become so easy to add, we are starting to see a dearth of generic photos attached to posts. We need to understand that it takes more than just slapping a sort-of-relevant image on our posts. In fact, getting lazy with images can actually hurt our clarity and credibility.

Here is a look at the different categories of visualization and what they can do for your posts.

The category visual

The visual lets the reader know the category of your post. A good example is showing a photo of crops when you’re posting an article on agriculture. This is passable if you’re posting on a platform where lots of different topics are discussed. But if you’re posting in a more focused venue, using a generic photo makes your post feel, well, generic. This is important because those focused venues offer a better opportunity to reach the audience that you are looking to connect with. And you don’t want to appear generic.

The topic visual

A topic visual helps communicate more specifically what your post will cover. An example is a screenshot of the settings on a photoshop filters submenu used with a post about achieving a specific photoshop technique. This visual communicates more than the generic image.

The insight visual

The most useful visualization is the one that helps illustrate the insight that you are offering with your post. This could be an infographic (keep it snackable). Or, it could be a photo that shows a side-by-side comparison to illustrate your point.

Our visualizations are an important part of the way we communicate. Some would say they are the most important part. Settling for a vague or generic image does a disservice to the insight we are working to deliver.