6-point checklist for creating online visuals

In this era of the short attention span, visual elements are vital to online branding and communication overall. Try these approaches to help yours grab your audience’s attention.

Want your small business to have an edge over the competition? Learn how to make the best visuals.

For starters, visuals boost retention rates by 42 percent, so if you want your brand to be remembered on social media, use images—but not just any images.

Your fans have short attention spans, less than 10 seconds. Use images and graphics that grab your fans’ attention and make them remember and want to interact with your brand.

Read on for six tips to keep in mind when creating engaging social media graphics:

1. Use white space.

Sounds simple enough—it’s the blank space of an image, ad, infographic, etc.—but what is too much or too little? Too little, and your visual could overwhelm the viewer. Too much, and it’s boring.

Make sure you have a good balance without trapping too much white space. Cleaner, simpler visuals tend to have more white space.

2. Don’t go overboard with color.

As a rule, try not to use more than three colors on your graphics. Use saturation tools to get different shades, and look at a color wheel when making visuals. A color scheme can be based off analogous colors, i.e., any three colors that are continguous on the color wheel.

Another option is to use complementary colors—those directly opposite each other on the color wheel—to create a visual with high contrasts. Use your best judgement, because if it looks overwhelming to you, it probably would be for your audience.

3. Reference the rule of thirds.

Imagine your visuals are sectioned into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. This is especially important when you have figures in your visuals.

The figure should be placed in one of the four intersecting points on these virtual lines rather than in the center, because it flows better with the natural process of viewing an image.

4. Remember the hierarchy of type.

Whenever you’re considering type size, remember that the bigger the text is, the more someone is going to pay attention to it.

Think of any poster you’ve ever seen. The small “fine print” is the least read (hence why it often includes the limitations or something the creator would rather you not read too carefully).

We’re not suggesting you pull the wool over your audience members’ eyes, but instead make sure the most important messaging is in the largest font—which does not have to be at the top of your visual content.

5. Think about fonts.

Readability on a computer or mobile phone is different from that on a book or piece of paper. That’s why you should use more sans serif fonts (those that don’t have the little feet) as opposed to serif fonts. Think Arial rather than Times New Roman.

If your text is less taxing on the eyes, it’s more likely to be read.

6. High-quality images are best.

Aesthetic is the most important quality of a visual. If your visuals include blurry or highly pixelated images, it will be noticeable—and not in a good way. It’s better to have high resolution images, especially when you’re stripping, cutting or resizing an image into a graphic.

Good-quality images can be hard to find if you don’t have a photographer on hand (and you don’t want to break copyright laws), so stock images are your friends. There are many free stock photo sites that have license-free images or merely require attribution.

If you read this whole article without getting distracted (as the Internet age has made us prone to do), you’re ready to create your own visual masterpieces.

Remember, these are merely guidelines-and I’ve never met a rule I didn’t want to break-so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Sabrina Turman is a digital content strategist at Social Media Beast, where a version of this article originally appeared. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2014 with a BA in advertising and public relations. When she isn’t busting out beastly content, she’s online shoe shopping and watching Netflix.


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