12 types of visual content to use in your articles, reports and webpages

It’s great if you have amazing copy, but if you don’t accompany it with appropriate and engaging visuals, your doing an injustice to your content.

Visuals are crucial to the success of your content. In an article for the Content Marketing Institute blog, Robert Katai writes: “frequently cited research shows that images attract more people to the content and help people retain the content they consume longer.”

In his article, Katai presents 12 types of visual content you can use in your blog posts, but these ideas can be applied to other types of digital articles, reports and webpages. Read the summary below or the full article here.

1. Data-driven visuals

Katai writes: “To be a well-known leader in your industry, start creating data-driven content. Designed as charts or graphs, it can make it easier for your audience to comprehend your message than with text only.”


If you quote or reference an influencer in your content, Katai suggests creating an image with the influencer and his or her quote, for additional impact. This approach can also be used and adapted for other types of individuals quoted in your content.

3. Infographics

A well-designed and user-friendly infographic with relevant data can help enhance and increase awareness of your brand and messages.

4. Gifographics

A gifographic is a cross between an animated GIF and an infographic. Katai emphasizes the power of gifographics:

“If you know how to explain ideas and data through infographics, take them to the next level and add movement. It can increase the interest of your audience, better entice them to share the content, and, ultimately, the increased traffic can boost your [search engine optimization].”

Check out the example gifographic below (click to enlarge).


5. GIFs

Like gifographics, animated GIFs should be used only when they are consistent with the tone of the content and appropriate for the target audience.

6. Memes

“If you want to add a light touch to your article, memes can set you apart from your competition,” says Katai. I’ve included an example below, and you can find out more about meme marketing here.


7. Videos

Videos can be extremely effective, and they can engage audiences in ways other visual cannot. Read my previous post highlighting six dos and don’ts for effective videos.

8. Screenshots

Screenshots are easy to create and are a cost-effective way of getting your message across.

9. SlideShare presentation

Katai says: “SlideShare presentations are a great way to concisely share the thoughts in an article in a visual, downloadable way. You also can use single slides from SlideShare presentations as visuals within your content – similar to screenshots.”

10. Photos

Photos are a tried-and-tested tool for visual communication. Use quality images that are the most appropriate for your content.

11. Illustrations

Katai advises: “Your illustrations need to look professional in a way that reflects the tone and messaging of your brand. You should work with a professional designer to execute.”

12. Flip books

When you design a digital publication, you can create a flip book version, giving your readers an alternative way in which they can engage with the content. The flip book can also be embedded into articles as an interactive visual.

Use tools like Flipsnack to help you create your flip book.

Related articles:

Freddy the Fly: A lesson in effective development communications

The organization I work for, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), recently released the short animated video, ‘Freddy the Fly’, which I helped produce. ‘Freddy the Fly’ tells the story of a community that is mobilized to clean up its act and become open defecation free. But what makes the video so unique is that it is told from the perspective of a fly, who grows increasingly grumpy as the community steadily improves its sanitation and hygiene.

The main audiences for the video are those who need to hear the messages to improve their sanitation and hygiene (communities, school children, and the like) and those who can use the video as a tool to promote sanitation and hygiene behaviour change (development practitioners, especially those involved in sanitation programmes).

Check out the video below:

Ensuring that sustainable development issues, such as behaviour change and sanitation, resonate with your key audiences can sometimes be challenging. This can be due to the dynamic, multi-layered nature of these issues, as well as the complex and technical concepts linked to them. For example, how should one communicate faecal sludge management to non-sanitation practitioners?

This is where effective communications comes in. After identifying your audiences through communications and content strategies, communications professionals must ensure that they convey messages in the most clear, concise and engaging ways possible, adapted to those audiences. This includes identifying the appropriate tools and channels through which the messages are conveyed.

Though I’m being subjective here, I think ‘Freddy the Fly’ is a strong example of how to effectively communicate international development topics that may seem overly technical or not immediately marketable or exciting. Like pooping in the open! Here’s why:

  • It conveys key messages via a powerful channel: video.
  • It uses effective storytelling to engage audiences.
  • It repackages multi-layered, low-profile (but extremely important) topics – such as behaviour change through Community-Led Total Sanitation, sustainable sanitation and hygiene and open defecation – in an easy to understand, entertaining way.
  • It uses simple but creative visuals and narration (rhyming couplets) to engage audiences of all ages.
  • It tells the story from the perspective of a fly, using the element of novelty to engage audiences.
  • Finally, it’s an effective organizational promotion tool, as it effectively positions the organization addressing the issues presented in the video: WSSCC. The end of the video explains how WSSCC, through its Global Sanitation Fund, is helping end open defecation, with numbers to boot. It also directs audiences to WSSCC’s website, where they can learn more or support the cause.

Voila, the anatomy of an effective communications product. If you’re interested in learning more about WSSCC’s work, or sanitation and hygiene improvement in the context of international development, check out wsscc.org.

5 important visual lessons for content marketers

What type of content is most likely to touch emotions and increase interaction with your brand? What type of content has been shown to be more likely recalled by the majority of the American population? Visual. If content in general can be viewed as king or queen, then visual content is prince or princess.

Strong visuals are central to any content marketing strategy. Writing for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert Katai shares five lessons content marketers need to know about visual content.

1. Less is more

“Creating a lot of content, articles, videos, and social media posts won’t get you more clicks, leads, or whatever else you want to get,” says Katai. To maximize value, focus on what’s most important for that specific piece of content, your content strategy as a whole and your audience.

Design your content for your audience to easily comsume, think about and interact with it. Not going overboard with text, reducing clutter and making your content breathe will increase the likelihood of all of this happening.

2. Strike a balance

Visual content creation should be as important as text or audio content creation, says Katai. To make content more engaging, add imagery every few paragraphs. In fact, a 2014 study showed that the 100 most popular blogs used one image every 350 words.

But simply adding visuals isn’t enough – make sure you are respecting basic design principles. If you’re not skilled in design, this may require you working closely with someone who is, such as your organization’s graphic designer.

3. See the colour

Think about your colour combinations – what messages do they give off. Are they appropriate for the context and content strategy? Are they aesthetically pleasing? Answering these questions may require inputs from colleagues or friends, particularly those that have any eye for design. Most importantly, make sure your use of colour stays true to your brand.

4. Think about typography

“If your type is hard to read, readers will ignore your articles,” says Katai. If you need to, learn the basics of typography to ensure that readers won’t find your content hard to read. While I believe that headlines and body copy should use the same font in most cases, ensure that they are differentiated by style (such as italics and bold) and/or font size.

5. Don’t let page-load times deter visitors

Isn’t it frustrating when web pages take forever to load? If you think so, your audience more than likely thinks so too. Katai shares this statement from Google: “The best brand is the one who is there, useful, and quick.” One way to avoid the audience-repelling page-load time conundrum is to ensure visuals are optimized for online platforms. This means that they should be appropriately sized and compressed using software such as Adobe Photoshop. This is another scenario where your design colleague/friend can come to the rescue!

Featured source: patchtok, Flickr Creative Commons