For some sites, a picture really is worth a thousand words, but I keep seeing examples of redesigned websites that have increased the prominence of images for reasons that are I think misguided, and which negatively affect the user experience (assuming you believe, as I do, that forcing the user to immediately scroll down is a sucky thing to do).
Below are a few screenshots from some of the web’s top publishing brands, which have decided to promote (massive) images over words. In many cases you need to scroll down in order to view the content.
Then there is the curse of those half page display ads, for example on Wired. A commercial decision that puts the web design team firmly in its place. Let’s start there…
Wired produces some great content, so why is it so allergic to words?
The Telegraph also loves these big ads:
As does The Independent:
Then there is kind of thing from Fast Company, where a huge image is used to draw the reader in. And maybe it does precisely that… certainly I’d love to see some stats to see if scrolling is still a big deal, or whether prioritising text encourages people to hang around.
Mashable, meanwhile, unveiled a new design in December 2012, and it is very big on the visuals. Here’s how its article pages look:
Quartz also favours a scroll-inducing gargantuan image:
As does Jalopnik:
Finally, let’s look at the revamped Google+, which has fallen in love with images and a wiggly Pinterest-style layout, but not with typography. The reason that this kind of layout works on Pinterest is that it is all about the images, but I don’t think it’s the right approach for sites with lots of text-based content. It hurts my brain to make sense of pages that look like this:
I still think that words – despite the rise of images and videos in recent years – are what the web is all about, and web designers need to pay more attention to typography. Thankfully I’m not alone: here’s an excellent piece on words by Justin Jackson.
What do you think? Is this image-first trend to be encouraged, or is it misguided? Do leave a comment below, and please flag up any other examples you’ve come across.
Econsultancy’s Punch event is where ‘Marketing meets Creative in the age of data and insight’. Curated by Creative Review, this event showcases the best of insight-driven creative. This event forms part of our week-long Festival of Marketing extravaganza.