What They See Matters: Visual communication takeaways from audience research and tips for testing images

One of the most effective ways to communicate a message in our fast-paced society is through visual communication. These images are used in brochures, posters, social media posts, and billboards. Although these images are put out to the public we often have questions regarding their effectiveness; will these images prove inspirational, emotional and engaging?  Resource Media conducted research on specific scientific images directed at an audience to convey messages using qualitative and quantitative image-testing.


Resource Media’s guide can help you with your visual communication projects, organization goals with your target audience. When using scientific photos or an image and text combination, narrowing down your audience is critical in effectively conveying your message. Resource Media used specific images that tackle a range of issues in order to gauge maximum effectiveness with specific groups


1. Use Images Your Audience can Recognize as Local

Using an image that is local to your audience create strengthens authenticity. The audience can emotional if they perceive the image as close to home which increases the likelihood of the viewer to act in response.          

2. Include Elements That Help Your Viewers Relate Personally, Like Homes, Activities, Or People

What your viewers find relatable or not depends on your audience and their interest. Elements to include in your photo to help viewers relate more to the content can be images of families, homeowners, students, schools, and local businesses. Photos with people’s faces up-close also showed as effective.

3. With Online Action Appeals Or Ads To New Audiences, Be Careful Of Images That Spark Interests Unrelated To Your Ask

Often viewers are attracted to a compelling image and take the time to give it their attention, however the image may not inspire viewers to respond to the request for action. Choose images that are closely related to the action ask.

4. Accompanying Text Can Create Impact, But The Image Comes First

An image accompanied with text can often be more memorable then just the image itself.  A couple words on the photo can drive and encourage your viewers’ engagement. The strong text can help the right image work better, but the right text won’t compensate for the wrong image.

5. Juxtaposition Can Be Effective

Images placed in contrast to one another can be more memorable to an audience; the combination of both images proves to be more striking to viewers than a stand-alone image. Another form of image contrast is using text to generate and unexpected reaction from viewers.

Date: 2016
Organization: Resource Media
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Framing, Other
Organization: Resource Media
Strategic Approach: Engagement, Framing, Other

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