When Words Meet Widgets

A graphic outline helps me plot, but it can’t convey the depth of words on the page.

The endless search for a fresh look (download—preview—repeat) started me thinking once again about format; if content is king, why is it so important to find that perfect layout, font, background color, and header?

Apparently there’s a scientific explanation; the human brain responds far more powerfully to images than text. That’s why we judge books by their covers, and why word counts are shrinking to make room for larger photos. Content may be king, but unless it is pleasing to the eye and easy to follow, busy readers will move on to the next blog.

So why expend all this energy on WRITING, for goodness sake? Why do oral and written communication still dominate, when we could turn our ideas into a fun Photoshop graphic instead?

Fortunately for writers, text is what gives a story depth. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but without a caption a photo can be interpreted a thousand different ways. Words are the building blocks of our ideas.

Best of all is when images and words work together, easing entry into a story and then rewarding those who stick around to the end. That’s what I’ve always tried to convey to my clients: the artful integration of images and text is the strongest messenger of all. There’s a reason why newspapers, newsletters, and most websites are laid out in a careful balance of graphics and words. The combination soothes our conflicting impulses to understand the story immediately AND to gain a deeper understanding of the issue, product, event, or conflict.

Most authors rely exclusively on words to hook readers; we can’t fall back on images to blast open the door to our world. The first sentence, first paragraph, and first chapter will either hook a reader or send her scurrying off to pick up the next enticing cover.

But once hooked, there is nothing more magical and wondrous. Our image-oriented brains take that black and white text and instantly translate it into a picture on the biggest screen of all—the one between our ears.

I may not understand the science, but I sure get the joy.

Thanks for following. Hopefully you like the new format, and please share your favorite example of graphic/text integration.