As explained previously, I decided to use the Twenty Seventeen theme for its potential as a parent theme, but also for its professional, stylish look. In particular, I was enchanted by its immersive header image and eye-catching front page with highlighted featured images. In keeping with its business-centric layout, it allows personalizing your site further with a logo…
“Wait! A logo? I don’t have a logo. Actually, I don’t even have any images.”
Definitively, this theme will not be able to
[bring my] site to life, as claimed on its homepage, if I don’t have any of these graphical elements.
Regardless of the theme, images are certainly a vital component of any website. They can be used for everything from enhancing the appearance of you site to helping understand difficult concepts. Provided they pertain directly to your content, they can strengthen your message. Besides,
without questioning my writing ability to hold your attention, visual elements can make reading longer content more enjoyable. Effectively used, they can also help drive more visitors to your site.
Graphics are visual representations used on a Web site to enhance or enable the representation of an idea or feeling . . . Graphics may entertain, educate, or emotionally impact the user, and are crucial to strength of branding, clarity of illustration, and ease of use for interfaces.World Wide Web Consortium
Given the importance of graphics, the question is not if you should use them, but which one you should use. Importantly, your imagery choices should depend on the needs of your particular project. Still, the options for using imagery are numerous and it can be difficult to decide on the right graphics. So, besides a logo, what graphics will I need?
As briefly touched upon, if I want to use the full potential of this theme, I will need a header image and featured images (at least the ones highlighted in the front-page sections). If you visit the WordPress.com demo of Twenty Seventeen, you can see that they use photographs for that purpose. Naturally, not all images are photographs, but photos are ubiquitous on the Web.
Photos are definitively good for your aesthetic design. Yet, this isn’t just about making things pretty. Photographs catch the eye and, used wisely, they can direct (versus steal) attention to your key message. For instance, you can leverage photographs of people gazing straight to your call-to-action. In addition, they
can set an emotional tone or amplify one that you create with the text on your page1. Grounded in reality, they can also lay the groundwork for personal connection and establish a sense of trust and reliability.
What a better way to let people relate to me than actually seeing who is behind this blog. Putting a face to CogitActive, i.e. placing a picture of me on the About page, was a no brainer.
To represent something (e.g. a specific and tangible product) or someone in a literal way, photographs are the clear choice. However, they may not be the most effective approach to communicate about abstract ideas. Illustrations, on the other hand, give you a versatility that photos simply can’t provide. Not bound by reality, illustrations have the ability to relate concepts and ideas. They can depict the non-existent; you don’t need an actual subject, you just need inspiration and a computer. Moreover, they can help your website
stand out in the ubiquitous world of photos2.
Complex information, illustrated and presented in innovative ways, will be easier to digest and remember.Henry Brown
Their flexibility also allows for a more freely creative approach to delivering a message. Illustrations come indeed in countless styles and forms. From decorative elements to a cartoon-like design to infographics, the possibilities are endless. Icing on the cake, illustrations have smaller file size, which means that they load faster.
In keeping with graphics to supplement text in an effort to help understanding, it would be a clear omission not to include screenshots – a very convenient tool indeed. Tutorial would be hard to follow along without accompanying images and, undoubtedly, how-to articles about software and the like are better served with screenshots. For that matter, I should probably express a mea culpa.
Picture yourself assembling an IKEA furniture with text-only instructions, i.e. without any illustration!
Given my background, these are probably my favorite types of visual aid; or at least, the one I am the most familiar with. Admittedly, charts plotted from complex statistical data are not common in blog posts; yet, data-driven visuals are a hot topic and continue rising in popularity. For instance, how many of the infographics you have seen recently did include charts?
People love quick, easily accessible information. Charts provide just that type of data visualization. In addition to be an aesthetical pleasing way to represent statistics, they also allow to see patterns that are not visible otherwise.
So far, I have covered graphics aimed at illustrating content. Logos are of a different kind; yet, they can also convey a message quickly and effectively. Essential for your branding, a well-designed logo can indeed represent everything you stand for. Whether you use a font-based logo (e.g. Sony) or an abstract symbol (e.g. Nike), it is clearly a key identity piece. As such, it should be a major element of any website.
To bring things full circle, Twenty Seventeen allows personalizing your site further with a logo. It would be a shame to do without.
A cover art
Last, because all this is about podcasting (see The CogitActive Saga), let me go back to it. You might recall from my The Who and the When post that I will need a cover art for my podcast. Despite a podcast being audio, the first thing (potential) new listeners will see is this artwork. They will probably browse through a large number of podcasts; therefore, it had better grab them!
Podcast cover art can directly impact the success of your podcast overall . . . it’s not something you should take lightly.Ana Gotter
To recap, there are many use-case for graphics. Whether it is to provide helpful visuals or easy-to-scan information, to highlight essential parts of your content, to offer break points for long-articles, or simply to make your website more gorgeous, it is crucial to use them. Now, as you may have noticed, I managed to have a whole post on graphics without using any! Figuring out what graphics I will need is one thing, getting them is another story.
To be continued…
1 See Web graphics for beginners: a best practices handbook. ^
2 Robert Katai (2017) 12 types of awesome visual content you can use in your blog posts. Content Marketing Institute. ^