Tell Me a Picture

Visual-StoryA-smWebsites, posts, tweets, text messages, emails, TV, radio— even newspapers, magazines and snail mail—people are inundated with more and more information while having less and less time to sort, absorb or evaluate it.

Looking for a way to quickly get through to this harried and distracted audience, content providers are turning to an idea so old that it’s new. Before the written word people told stories with pictures — witness cave paintings, stained glass windows and graffiti.

Visual Story Telling is an effective, yet entertaining way to cut through the clutter and engage your target audience — making it easier for them to identify and process information they are interested in from the relentless tsunami of daily data. Successful Social Media campaigns in particular have taken advantage of this trend. See Pinterest, Instagram and the changes to Facebook and even Twitter. The results have been higher levels of viewership, sharing and engagement.

Media includes single static images, info graphics, websites, video, film, any media that can convey visual information in an informative way. Whichever you choose there are a few guidlines to keep in mind:

Tips for Better Visual Communications

• Keep the Underlying Story in Mind – Use images that support the narrative
• Show Don’t Tell – Use images that evoke the action you want to communicate
• Keep it Simple and Clear – Use strong, uncluttered images—one idea per picture
• Use Images Symbolically – Metaphors are your friend
• Start with the familiar – Use images that resonate with your intended audience.
• Story Boarding – If you’re creating a multi-image narrative, start at the end and work backwards to the beginning.
• Be Creative – Don’t be afraid to be entertaining or at the very least, interesting.

As you might expect in a post on Visual Story Telling— I have examples:


Childcare in the UK by Information Designer Peter Grundy
A collection of otherwise dry facts presented in an appropriate fashion.
See »

The Truth About Pasta
Another infographic from Great Britain, this one about pasta. The variety of visual techniques keeps the viewer scrolling
See DesignInfographics »


Ford Foundation Annual Report 2011
Most Annual Reports are dressed up financial statements. This site with its interactive interface and abundance of color photos dynamically conveys the work of the foundation and the impact it has on people’s lives.
See website »

The Future of Car Sharing
Literally, a journey of discovery. “Drive” a little car, I assume it’s a shared one, across a landscape of facts and figures making the case.
See website »

MoMA: The Century of the Child
One of the most innovative, and obscure interfaces I’ve ever seen. The page is covered with icons with an image of a child in the center. Place your cursor on and icon and to see it story.
See Website


Old Space: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
A very effective Ad campaign that succeeds by making fun if itself and modern male stereotypes. It’s power comes from the creative juxtaposition of its script and visuals.
See Video

Dove: The Evolution of Beauty
A beauty commercial that says some interesting things about beauty — all with visuals. It will change the way you look at fashion and beauty advertising.
See Video

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