images as a universal social media layout

Facebook has changed, Twitter has changed, and Pinterest is changing. There is a trend rapidly developing online across all these platforms: the rise of the visual card design. The decline of the banner ad has spurred on native advertising and the visual card format is the next stage of the visual web. Some examples include Etsy, Instagram, Pinterest, and Ebay.

Images that engage

The freshly designed Facebook layout in the past few weeks is a good example. Images appear larger and visually retain eye attention mid screen as you scroll down.

Engaging Images take the fore in new Facebook design.

Each post appears in a self contained card with images taking prime position. Julie Zhua, Product Design Director at Facebook, reiterated the importance of images within the new design: “The new design we’re currently rolling out to everyone delivers richer and larger photos, videos, and statuses. It cleans up a lot of clutter.” Advertisements are appearing in native format with large images to maximise engagement. Even news sources are relying on images to generate user engagement. The New York Times post minimal text alongside a large image.

The New York Times Facebook

Previous data from Slate found many visitors do not scroll through an article but most will see all content on photo and video. The visual card format seeks to generate higher user engagement with the visually engaging impact of a photo. The impact of images to generate information is highlighted in an interesting article from Dustin Curtis. He claims the earlier Facebook design which maximised images on the News Feed was so effective that it was counter productive for the overall site performance. Users spent less time browsing the areas outside of the News Feed which in turn led to fewer advertising impressions. Whether or not that played a definitive factor in the new Facebook design, it is evident that Facebook has maintained the importance of images in their new design.

Twitter previously adopted a design to maximise images in tweets but further changes are coming. In last week’s Twitter Academy Webinar they revealed new Twitter cards for vines, images, and more. The design maximises images for optimal user engagement. Like Facebook, news stories and content will appear in brief text format with the image as the focal point. The design favours the high amount of Twitter users on mobiles. Twitter Lead Generation cards already tested the card design allowing advertisers to appeal to users in the native format.

Twitter Webinar

Pinterest is set to introduce promoted pins for advertisers in the next few weeks. Pins will appear in native format within the visual Pinterest card. The visual card design was adopted by Pinterest from the outset but with more and more platforms across the web adopting the design, Pinterest’s growing success is not surprising. Instagram championed the visual card design and is at the forefront of the growth of the visual web. Like Pinterest, Instagram is due to introduce sponsored photo and video advertising. As Instagram is predominantly accessed via mobiles, the visual card design has been perfected for these devices. The growing visual card design model is reflective of the high amount of users who access these platforms from their mobile phones. Interestingly, the platforms that developed the visual card design first – Pinterest and Instagram –  lapsed behind Facebook and Twitter in using advertising. Instead Facebook and Twitter adopted the visual card design from these other platforms and have undoubtedly influenced Pinterest and Instagram to embrace the potential of the engaging visual card design.

A mockup for the forthcoming Pinterest ads from Digiday. The red box will not be part of the design; it was used to single out the promoted pin within the designs.

Sponsored Pinterest Ads

From a design perspective the visual card optimizes a user’s experience as it is shaped for the demands of mobiles and tablets – swiping, flicking, tapping etc. From a performance perspective it optimizes engagement by allowing a reduction in text and a maximisation of image and visual forms. We previously highlighted the importance of images over text for engaging users. The visual impact of the visual card design will surely see the design featured more and more across the web. The next stage in the expansion of the visual web is ensuring the optimized engaging image is used on the visual card design. That is where we come in. Taggs understands the visual web. We have tracked its growth and expansion. We analyse the engagement of image content across the visual web. We both reveal current trends and pinpoint new ones. If you are unsure what image to use for your website, Instagram, Facebook, or anywhere across the web, we are certain. We use social data analysis to ensure you choose the image that will maximise your customers’ experiences.