Users gravitate toward visuals

In my initial days of working as a technical writer, I was advised not to include screenshots of the proprietary software anywhere in documentation. The rationale was that the images could land into wrong hands and competitors would be able to scoop up the features we were adding to the software. That was 2004.

Today, practically no firm can afford to be secretive about their product. With more and more solutions being built around the web, visual aids have become the norm.

When I say visuals, I’m referring to all kinds of visual media such as pictures, diagrams, data charts, infographics and video tutorials.

Even if a user is tech savvy, he or she will immediately gravitate to visuals. The reason behind this is simple: a good visual reduces the sense of cognitive overload. It allows the user to more easily take in information i.e. if the visuals illustrate concepts clearly.

In other words, the fewer details to process, the less the working memory has to sift through the material.

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