Which is More Important in Design: Images or Text?

Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/images-text-important/

Technology has changed the modern world greatly in recent years and, in particular, it has changed the way we seek and perceive information.

People simply have less time for the deep and thorough reading our parents might have done a generation ago. Most of us deal with many input sources — the web, email, twitter, SMS, IM — so we tend to naturally favor any information that can be grasped in seconds, if not instantaneously.

Our brain is designed to process the world in a visual form. It’s part of our ‘native OS’. For at least 40,000 years, humans have been transferring information from one person to another with a help of images, pictograms and graphic symbols.

Cave painting from Lascaux

Photo : goforchris

Text is a ‘kid brother’ by comparison. The first evidence we have for written communication appears in Sumeria around 2600 BC — an evolutionary blink of the eye.

Children start their learning process with the use of picture books. We’ve all noticed that kids are much more likely to engage with a book that has pictures than text-heavy book? Even older children (and, many adults for that matter) often only become engaged with a book after they’ve watched the movie that was based on it.

Why Are Visuals So Engaging?

It’s conventional wisdom that people in general don’t read on the Internet. A recent study claims that users mostly like and share posts after scanning a few first lines or even just a headline.

So, if your well-considered and wordy Facebook rant gets a batch of likes, don’t assume your followers actually read it. It may be more of an high five for effort — especially if you have a cool image there.

Another recent Twitter study shows that tweets with photos and images are more engaging for users than text-only tweets. The key reason for this trend is that images speak directly to our emotions. Images get fed straight into our subconscious, unlike text symbols which need to go through a ‘decoding step’.

Color, size and shape of a visual element evoke various feelings — anything from warmth to anger to joy — and can even push us to engage with a brand, share a post or buy a product.

Infographic courtesy of NeoMam Studios
Credit :NeoMam Studios

Another part of the explanation is that visual images appeal to both the left and right sides of our brains, engaging our logic and imagination at the same time. Actually, the growing success of infographics is a plain evidence of this idea.

What About Text?

We can’t imagine today’s world and web without text. A picture may well be worth a thousand words, but it’s likely a different thousand words for each of us. Text gives our ideas a precision that we can rarely approach with images alone.

Text also plays the central role in SEO, being the only data we can say with certainty that search engines understand perfectly.

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I once read a bit of useful text in an info-graphics.
So i copy pasted it below for all of you read:

There’s no doubt at all that visual impact is critical in design. If your site doesn’t have that visual appeal then you’re going to lose a lot of your potential readers immediately.

But equally, if your graphics are cashing cheques the website can’t honour, and your text isn’t up to scratch, people are going to feel let down when they realise the site is all fur coat and no knickers, and hasn’t actually got the content they want. And without that content, it’s unlikely you’re going to get any custom from them. Sure, you might get some likes and shares and a bit of traffic, but if that doesn’t convert into trade then it’s a bit of a waste of time.

Fortunately, for those of us who are aesthetically challenged, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. With mobile becoming an ever-increasingly important segment, graphics are not the be-all and end-all in the way that they were becoming a few years ago. These days, a lot of people will be surfing on their mobiles where they will appreciate a simple, streamlined interface with little in the way of graphics. Yes, you still need to make it look good, you probably still want a funky logo, but the full-page infographics and artwork just don’t work so well on a small screen.


There is never a need to ask a question like this one regardless of all the research one can make about it: Which is More Important in Design: Images or Text?

The answer is: they both are important. The answer also is: none are important.

This question is also flawed as well. Is not about importance in Design since it’s THE MESSAGE that dictates which elements the designer should use in his/her design.

Design is design, there are no design elements more “important” than others.

Thanks) but have you read the article? Or it’s just the title that confuses you?

The title raises a provocative question that may cause such a reply, but the message of the text seems to me in some way similar to the one you provided in your comment =)

It is the age of visual culture and language. All are in hurry, no one have enough time to read long text in your website or business. People are looking a concise data with interactive visual presentation in your designing part. So, that they understood and read them easily. But, image is not enough, text is also have their importance in designing. But, the text should be short and relevance to capture enough information in your designing field.

Both elements are really very important to convey the correct message to our customers and followers. Both depends on each other…

Both of them are important but as they say content is king and when we mention content we mostly refer to text based content. While images attract users it is the text that persuades, creates trust and builds loyalty. Of course in some cases like product sites images are crucial but again you can’t sell with images alone.