2012 was the year visual communication made it big. It was just an idea in 2010, got a fledgling start by 2011 and by 2012 it was in full swing. We saw Pinterest take its place among social media royalty, coming in third after Facebook and Twitter. The notion that Pinterest is a place for old stay-at-home types to share their crochet crafts is now an archaic fact. Truth is, by late November of 2012, we saw a huge influx of digital companies, startups and even men taking to Pinterest with notorious speed. Pinterest is no longer for the idler, it’s for business creatives. It’s a communication must have. It’s a cheap ideation tool. Then there’s Instagram, widely used by almost all individuals and creatively incorporated to highlight corporate culture by cream of the crop companies.
Whether or not you’re using Pinterest, you should really care about Pinterest, and Instagram. Why? Because there’s no bigger red flag that visual communication is the path of the business futurist than these two mediums.
Why are visuals gaining momentum, and why has it entered the business realm? While some people say it’s a simple case of A.D.D., where text has dwindled to 140 characters and 140 characters has capsulated into a single image, in reality the truth is far simpler. People think in terms of images. Think about it – when you have a thought, is it formed in a series of words or is it a series or images? Fact is, we think in images and images as a form of communication speaks to us because it mirrors our thought process. It’s actually an incredibly effective, efficient and accurate way to communicate by allowing quick data transmission with little room for misinterpretation.
Blogs are taking the same cue and are becoming far more visually-inspired. Content is still king, so you won’t exactly be seeing your favorite digital destination turned into a glossy image gallery. What you will see, however, are blogs favoring glossy graphics to pair even the most technical data. You’ll see increased designs tailored to favor the refined optical palette of the modern user. In short, people don’t just want content anymore; they want an experience. The best digital publications and websites will offer just that. So while content is still king, visualization is viceroy. If nothing else, infographics are proof of that.
Visualization will dominate in metrics too. For starters, you can say goodbye to Big Data, as agencies are realizing that data is “useless unless it can be automated and applies. The new emphasis will be on visualization” that focuses on user experience via a “fully integrated, cross-channel, unified, single tag dashboard.” If you’re up to speed on past posts, you’ll already have noticed that the best reviews go toward software that can integrate a clean end-user experience. The same also goes for analytics as users are favoring better designed metric systems over or in addition to Google Analytics. You probably also noticed the number of new social metrics platforms popping up, all of which also favor visualization – see RebelMouse, Twylah and Gloss.si.
For 2013, you can also add in a dash of video, which of course is yet another form of visualization. Your audience is diversifying and evolving, which means that cool visuals alone aren’t enough. While visuals will attract eyes, video is what will go viral. So as video increases favorability, expect to see more tools, apps and platforms pop up to support this interest. For the current video tech market, they’ll have to work to adapt to user needs by creating a more favorable and user-friendly platform. Hopefully, in the process the right company will come along and give YouTube a real run for their money – the latter of which has a completely outdated user interface and limited engagement opportunities for clients with multiple accounts. Here Google could really stand to take a cue from social media and apply a social media design to one of the biggest social platforms out there – YouTube.