You may have noticed that the web is becoming more and more of visually-tilted. Facebook rewards photo sharing with increased visibility. Twitter’s interface is more visual than ever. Pinterest, one of the most eye-candyish of all social media, is skyrocketing in popularity. And many organizations have forsaken their old text-heavy websites for clean, fresh, visual sites.

Why Visual

Why is this happening? Well, according to research by 3M Corporation, visual content gets processed 60,000 times faster than written word. And 90% of transmitted information in the human brain is actually visual in nature.

So it’s no grand mystery why visual content performs better than text-only or text-heavy content across almost every platform. According to recent studies, articles with images perform 94% better than those without images in the same category. Tweets with photos get retweeted 70% more than tweets without images. Photos on Facebook generate much higher engagement. And so on.

With the rise of mobile web browsing, people have less patience to wade through text on a small screen. We want to get the key idea, and fast.

Types of Visual Content

When we talk about “visual content,” we mean:

  1. Images. This includes stand-alone photos, photo backgrounds with message overlays, visual text, or other interesting graphics. Images are great for sharing across social media, adding to your website, using as thumbnails for your articles, and starring as the protagonist in your campaigns.
  2. Infographics. Infographics are a wildly popular way of getting more complex information across, particularly information heavy with statistics. By interspersing visuals with text, you can communicate complex ideas in easy-to-decode ways.
  3. Video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. Videos can make your work come alive, move your donors to tears, and create social change.


Most nonprofits don’t have the budget for a graphic designer, a videographer, or even a license for Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. So what do you do?

Fortunately, technological innovation is keeping pace with the visual content trend. There are now a host of point-and-click applications that allow you to create powerful and beautiful visuals with no real skill required. You just have to know what you want to communicate.

YouTube has some great editing tools that can help you make a 60-second video you took with your iPhone look professional enough to feature on your website. There are a host of infographic tools that can help you put your statistics into a digestible format. And tools like Canva can transform you into an overnight image artiste.

So don’t despair. Online communication may have jumped to visual, but free or low-cost tools abound that can help you continue to communicate effectively. Check out all the resources in this section for some great tips.