Multimedia visualizations are powerful ways to convey a lot of information in a small space and with little time. The use of a visual — a map, a drawing, a picture, sketch, or collage — provides layers of information beyond words. When dealing with complex situations, visualizations provide clear communication pathways.
Unlike some of our other posts, this is not pointing us to a specific tool or technique, rather a general approach to thinking about and engaging with content.
Let’s look at the benefits of adding more visuals to your work to help your strategy, evaluation, and program design efforts.
1. Relationships. One visuals can help you with understanding proportions, distance, and other relative characteristics. It is useful to position things next to one another – whether that is choice alternatives, network connections, or even contrasts. Seeing things in relation to one another on a visual canvas provides our brains with new information that is difficult or impossible to gain from more abstract thinking without visuals.
2. Colour and Texture. How something looks and feels can tell us a lot about what it means. By adding colour to something we apply a simple lens that can convey meaning. Colours like green invoke environmental imagery, red is well-known to have many meanings in different cultures, while blue can be relaxing. Texture can do the same thing. To illustrate, consider New Zealand-based Icebreaker who makes wool-based clothing and uses texture-rich images of sheep’s wool to highlight how its products are natural in composition. Use of texture in the imagery gives a sense of integrity, warmth, and a feel to fabrics even when the buyer might only see them online.
3. Variety. As more people work remotely and digitally than ever before, the visual landscape for many of us has changed in most workdays. We lack contrast in our environments and also in our digital screens. By increasing the visual constraint and variety by diverging from text and boxes toward photographs, graphic images, videos, or some other form of visual media we draw attention. When so much feels the same, few things are more valuable than attention.
4. Abstraction and Narrative. Words offer us a restricted set of options due to the need for us to be linear in our the way we speak. With a visual we can better draw abstract themes from an object and use things like metaphor to describe scenarios that allow us to transcend words.
There are many ways to use visuals and software tools like online whiteboards such as Miro and Mural, visual organizing tools like Milanote, and tools such as Jamboard or Trello to showcase information in ways that extend beyond text.
Consider bringing more details into your next project and discover what visuals can do for creating richer, more vibrant ideas and creative opportunities to your work.