Text is more important than images on the Web

Is it the first eight words of a Web headline that keeps readers reading? Guess again. The first four words? Nope. According to the Poynter Institute, you have two words to get and keep their attention.

The Web is primarily a text-driven medium and will remain so despite the rise of video.

“Dominant headlines most often draw the eye first upon entering the page—especially when they are in the upper left, and most often (but not always) when in the upper right,” according to Eyetrack III from Poynter Institute. This study of how people consume news websites found that, “Photographs, contrary to what you might expect (and contrary to findings of 1990 Poynter eyetracking research on print newspapers), aren’t typically the entry point to a homepage. Text rules on the PC screen—both in order viewed and in overall time spent looking at it.”

In traditional print media it has long been established that images are more powerful than text in getting attention. But the opposite is the case on the Web. Text dominates. Consider the Google business model. It makes most of its money from advertising. What sort of advertising? AdWords. Text. Google has never sold a graphical ad on Google.com.

That is contrary to the traditional print and TV ad industry. There, the more color, the more fantastic the image, the bigger the impact. It’s the opposite on the Web.

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