Content, Color and Corresponding Images: 3 Measures for a Meaningful Hub
Do you research your articles and give links so your reader has more opportunity to learn about a subject?
Each person writing an article today has more opportunities to convey their point of view, share their knowledge, or offer helpful tips and hints on a wide variety of subjects.
Not only are we able to write articles on subjects that interest us, but we can validate our perspective with scholarly research, evidence to support our positions or add anecdotal, or subjective articles to agree or sometimes disagree with our perspective.
Regardless of the other content information that we provide, we are also able to enhance our reader’s awareness with effective use of color and corresponding images, which in turn will better our communication.
Writers know that they need to break up the article, emphasize an action, or feature a particular aspect of the article.
It is also necessary to understand the value of white space and illustrations as visual descriptors to create a meaningful article on multiple levels.
Colors Influence your Reader's Emotions
What do you look for in these visual aids?
Understanding the influences will help you narrow your choices; understanding the psychological influences of colors can help you fine tune exactly which clip art or photo to include.
Colors Influence Your Readers' Perception
Colors influence your reader’s perception of your article. There are cultural, socio-economic, gender, and age differences that will influence how your readers view your choice of color and image from their perspective, so knowing your reading audience is critical when selecting your accompanying visuals.
Even when we have this knowledge, we are sometimes unsure of size, placement, or even colors to convey a message.
People think using pictures. John Berger, media theorist, writes in his book Ways of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1972), "Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak."
People Relate to the Color and the Concept in Images
People are drawn to the picture; a carryover from childhood, when we could identify a cat by the picture long before we understood that the black squiggly lines spelled C-A-T.
Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy, said, "...unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). This is why, by the way, that we have 7-digit phone numbers.
Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched."
So, I could emphasize this article with a picture of a cat, or move on to the next point of my article. Frankly, a picture of a cat, regardless of how appealing, might confuse my readers if it was the initial image, and they might not finish the article based on their perception of my picture.
How Does Color Influence the Readers’ Experience?
People have personal preferences for colors in their living environment, clothing and even the color of car they drive.
When we use color in our media inserts, we are sending a subtle message with our choice of color, sometimes as much as the written content.
Carl Jung is most prominently associated with the pioneering stages of color psychology. Jung was most interested in colors’ properties and meanings, as well as in art’s potential as a tool for psychotherapy.
Modern color psychology uses six principles:
- Color can carry specific meaning.
- Color meaning is either based in learned meaning or biologically innate meaning.
- The perception of a color causes evaluation automatically by the person perceiving.
- The evaluation process forces color motivated behavior.
- Color usually exerts its influence automatically.
- Color meaning and effect has to do with context as well.
Studies in the United States have shown that certain colors convey a particular intent, action or emotion and that colors have both a positive and negative connotation.
Combining Color and Image
I can use a picture of a black and white soccer ball, and leave it up to the reader’s imagination.
Adding a Human Element
I can give them another black and white soccer ball; this time with dirt, cleats, and a human image.
This visual lets them know a little more about the element but it still does not capture certain aspects of soccer that are perhaps the greatest benefit of my third ball.
Visuals with Global Appeal
My third choice was a soccer ball representing how many countries play soccer, reflective of the universal appeal of the game, making it more globally recognized.
This image, although lacking a human element, still manages with the flags to convey the universal human teamwork and competition.
Too Much Information or Too Many Visuals?
But were these images distracting for my readers? Each writer needs to decide if the images convey the intent and maintain continuity in their articles.
Unfortunately, there are times that an image speaks to us as the writer, but does nothing to enhance the experience for the reader.
Humor is a good example of this type of disconnect between writer and reader.
Visuals that Distract or Divert your Reader’s Attention
If your article is humorous, try keeping your visuals light, funny or using colors that suggest joy, laughter and happiness.
For instance, using a picture of the ostrich with its head in the sand in your article about, The Time I……let’s everyone know that you are talking about a time that you ignored advice, pretended something wasn’t happening, or in some way could not see reality with respect to yourself and found some humor in it.
Keeping the Facts Straight
Writing a serious hub on ostriches? Then watch for cartoonish pictures that might diminish the message and discredit you as the writer. Ostriches do not bury their heads in the sand!
If a predator threatens its nest, an ostrich will flop to the ground and remain still, laying its head against the sand to try to blend in with it.
Only its body is visible, so from a distance, it looks like the ostrich has buried its head in the sand.
Content vs. Clip Art
How much time do you spend finding visuals for your Hubs?
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
J. Francis Davis, an adult educator and media education specialist, captured it well when he said, "...in our culture pictures have become tools used to elicit specific and planned emotional reactions in the people who see them."
Visuals are not only excellent communicators but also quickly affect us psychologically and physiologically. People are drawn to images when reading an article.
I Want My Words to be the Important Part
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” rankles many authors who know that their descriptors are action packed, relevant, exciting, and informative. While that may be true, giving your reader the added bonus of a picture can help them remember your words.
A compelling Hub is:
- Images, charts, and other visuals which effectively illustrate your words
- The correct combination of these two to ensure that your readers stay engaged
Choices in Images: Giving Credit where Credit is Due
None of us like seeing our articles used and plagiarized by others; the same holds true for photographers and graphic artists.
Being mindful of when you can use images legally shows the same courtesy to those individuals that we expect for ourselves.
An excellent article on this subject is by a veteran writer on Hub Pages, Audrey Kirchner.
Her article, How To Legally Use Images And Videos On-Line takes a lot of the guesswork out of image use and should be a must read for Hubbers.
© 2013 Marilyn L Davis