Here are 7 often-overlooked ways you can add visual interest to articles, blogs, and books while reinforcing your ideas & building your brand.
There’s more to adding visual interest than generic stock photos, clip-art, and pie charts.
The next time you want to add visual interest consider using 1 of the 7 following to reinforce your ideas and strengthen your brand by adding a personal touch.
7 often-overlooked visual tools
Some of the following have been around for centuries, others reflect recent thinking.
- Sketches. Until a few years ago, illustrating was something that only illustrators did…until Dan Roam wrote The Back of the Napkin: Problem Solving and Selling Ideas with Pictures. Dan’s book showed the power of using rough, amateur-produced sketches to share complex ideas. It was an eye-opening book in the best sense of the term. Dan’s crusade to democratize sketches been aided by books like Gamestorming and Visual Thinking. Dan’s latest book, Blah, Blah, Blah:What to Do When Words Won’t Work, shares sketching tips you can use with simple iPhone and iPad applications.
- Mind maps. Just about everything I write, including blog posts, begins as a mind map, like the sample map above, that I created using Mindjet’s MindManager App for the iPad. Mind maps save time writing–by the time I start to write, a lot of the hard work has already been done. Plus, they add visual interest with distraction, since they preview and reinforce the article or blog post contents. Note: if you own an iPhone, iPad, or Android device, you can currently download Mindjet’s mobile apps for free!
- Notes. Here’s a simple way you can add visual interest to ebooks and elearning materials intended to be printed. Simply provide space on each page, or each 2-page spread, for readers to take notes. Providing space to take notes visually reinforces the importance of your words and encourages readers to take notes.
- Timelines. Timelines are a form of infographic that visually helps readers relate events to the political, social, or economic context in which they occurred. At a glance, for example, you can relate items in your company history the period during which they occurred. For eye-opening examples, search for infographics on Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop.com.
- Exercises. Another way you can add simultaneously add visual interest to an article, blog post, or ebook page while reinforcing your ideas is to create a graphic out of a series of numbered questions for readers to answer, providing space for them to enter text or graphics on the page. Provide a headline for the graphic, and a capsule description of how readers will benefit from filling out the exercise.
- Cartoons. One of the best ways you can engage your reader’s interest is to use a cartoon to drive home an important point….often by using humor to exaggerate an important point or to overcome an objection or a popular misconception. Through the The New Yorker Magazine’s CartoonBank, you can license cartoons at surprisingly affordable prices. Or, you can search online at sites like Freelanced.com for freelance cartoonists who can custom create for presentations, newsletters, and online use.
- Lists and subheads. Perhaps the easiest way you can add meaningful visual interest to articles, blog posts, and books is to make better use of layout and text formatting tools like lists and subheads. The inside pages of Derek Halpern’s Nonverbal Website Intelligence, which I recently discussed, provides numerous examples of pages formatted with visually arresting subheads and lists.
Exploring on your own
Today, as the 7 examples show, there are more ways than ever for you to add visual interest to your articles, blog posts, and books, while–simultaneously–strengthening your ideas and building your brand. Which of the 7 ideas discussed here would you like me to discuss in a future blog post? Share your ideas, suggestions & questions here, or as a comment, below.