Visual Storytelling: The Next Big Movement in Website Design?

Storytelling is one of the most pervasive traditions in every corner of the globe. We all grew up hearings stories, telling stories, and creating stories. While we most commonly associate stories with text, visual storytelling has similarly deep roots in human culture. Visual storytelling creates a vivid narrative without heavy textual components, but rather through a carefully cultivated assemblage of different visual artifacts to create an easily identifiable structure. This structure can be used to indicate the values and identity of a company.

There’s a strong trend in marketing currently toward personalized, transparent, and cleanly designed visuals. Customers want to see what kind of business you have, not just what you offer. Visual storytelling is like creating a personality for your business. It’s telling customers about more than just what you sell or what services you provide. Instead, it’s creating an experience they associate with your business.

What Is Visual Storytelling?

To put it simply, visual storytelling is creating a visual of your company. If you already have a brand book, visual storytelling is very similar, just in a different context. It’s a complete, comprehensive aesthetic representation of what your company is and how you want to appear to your customers.

For example, say you own a store that sells camping equipment. If your website is pictures of a cityscape, you’re creating a disconnect between your visual story and your company’s identity. Instead, using pictures of forests, camp fires, people hiking, or any other camping-related imagery will immediately communicate what your company is selling while also creating an instantly recognizable association for consumers.

Think about what you associate with your company. What services do you provide? What values do you place as paramount within your mission statement? If you frequently deal with customer service, including images that are coded with that value, such as clasped hands or a smiling family, will communicate that to your customers without trying to jam the text on your main page.

Consider color schemes and fonts that can also be aligned with your company. You are creating a vibe through your website, advertising campaign, and other associated media. Think about your audience or expected customer base. What sort of aesthetics do members of this target group appreciate?

This is where it can get tricky because visual storytelling can easily backfire. Make sure not to include vague stock photos. Visual storytelling is personal, and it has to appear that way.

How Can Visual Storytelling Be Implemented?

Image via Flickr by Ry.Dawg_Designz

Visual storytelling is often an overarching, deeply ingrained part of business marketing. Stretching from social media accounts to website landing pages to store design, a completely cohesive visual marketing strategy can make a huge difference when attempting to attract and keep a loyal customer base. Ensure your visual components demonstrate not only personality but also values and are closely connected to the way your business is run.

That is one of the trickiest parts of incorporating this strategy — it must match up. If you have a visual story, but your business is a far cry from what you’ve portrayed, it will be entirely ineffective. If you’ve created a sleek, modern story, but your physical presentation is homier, then the impression you’ve made via your marketing strategy is unfounded, which can create a disconnect with potential customers.

The goal of visual storytelling is to give consumers as much information as needed with maximum engagement. This doesn’t mean that you need a ton of interactivity, which is one of the most intimidating, and occasionally expensive, aspects of implementing this strategy. In fact, many websites with strong visual storytelling components don’t include any interactivity. Instead, they focus on effective designs with personalized imagery that communicates their brands’ and audiences’ values. Of course, you can include interactive content, but it isn’t a do-or-die part of the strategy.

In addition, visual storytelling isn’t a textless option. Instead, choose clean, direct copy that communicates the information you want your customers to know without overloading them. By including both visual and textual elements, you’re able to create a more well-rounded, comprehensive message. 

Why Is Visual Storytelling Important?

By using visuals as the primary focus of your website, it can help establish and keep consumers’ attention by giving them instant insight into your company. As graphic design becomes more and more important in modern marketing, the popularity of visual storytelling increases.

Oftentimes, when consumers navigate to websites, they want information quickly and easily, not loads of texts or an over-abundance of images. Effective visual storytelling lends itself toward creating a multimedia experience that not only informs customers of the details of your business but also gives them insight into the personality of your business, which is a great way to earn new customers.

Whether you take the time to create your own visual storytelling across your various marketing outlets or you choose to hire a professional, visual storytelling is an easy way to create an air of transparency and intimacy with existing and potential clients. Consumers have more access than ever to information about businesses, so it’s no longer enough to throw together a quick ad campaign and call it a day.

While visual storytelling may end up a more involved process, its benefits outweigh the amount of work needed. Whether you choose to create a super detailed site with customer interactivity or you want a simple overview, utilizing visual storytelling to create connections between your business and your customers can help grow interest in your business.

Creating a successful campaign may take time and planning, but using visual storytelling across all your marketing lends your business a polished, cohesive, and involved overall look. This demonstrates not only attention to detail, but also knowledge of your market and intended customer base.

While you can write out these things in the text of your website, your marketing campaigns and website visuals can imply these values, making your story more believable. Having a strong graphic design and copywriting team can make the implementation of visual storytelling strategies as easy as possible.

About the author

Megan Tilley