Visual Content and the Role of Design in Online Marketing

Most marketers agree that a successful combination of data analysis, content creation and compelling design is a key to a successful digital strategy. Namely, to communicate a clear message across different channels (including websites, social media pages and online ads) online campaigns need to rely on visual representation that delivers a message in an impactful way.

The simple idea behind this is the fact that visual information is typically processed much faster than the one represented as text, which makes visuals an irreplaceable resource for every activity that aims to educate.




Similarly, companies that intend to expand their online presence and create a recognizable brand personality should include different types of visuals in their marketing strategies.  This goes for both social media expansion and content marketing, both of which need to heavily rely on design in order to deliver best results.


Conversion-oriented web design

Probably the most conspicuous way design elements can determine the efficiency of online marketing is website design, which plays a critical role in attracting and converting users. Regardless of the online promotion channels marketers use to drive traffic to the website, no long-term results can be achieved if the website is not optimized for conversions.

Therefore, conversion rate optimization is a process that relies on a tight collaboration of marketers and web designers. Marketers, who have developed buyer personas, and web designers whose task is to attract them by design can together define the critical elements of user experience to increase conversions.

In addition to optimizing website performance in terms of speed and responsiveness, this also means optimizing the navigation process, designing call to action buttons to trigger responses and creating product or landing pages that stand out. One of the great resources for understanding how consumers psychology and persuasive design can be combined to improve conversion is this guide by Unbounce, which gives some excellent tips based on different A/B tests.


Using graphics in content marketing

Considering the latest trends in content marketing, it is clear that the role of design becomes growingly important. As the Internet gets filled with different pieces of data and sources of information, people seem to become more meticulous about the content they choose to engage with. This goes for both company blogs and social media networks, where a compelling image may drive more reactions than pieces of text alone.

The very fact that visual content is processed much faster than text speaks much about how people consume pieces of information presented on the web. Namely, according to a study by Skyword, content with relevant images generates 94% more views than the content that has no images whatsoever. Therefore, using graphics in content strategy is again a critical factor of its efficiency.

Furthermore, design is becoming increasingly important for creating white papers and infographics, which are gaining more attention by content marketers today. Precisely because of the fact internet users nowadays may be overwhelmed by all the textual information they are presented with, design is becoming a critical aspect of content strategy planning.


Visuals on social media

The similar rules to information consumption apply in the social media realm. As different studies suggest, social media users are more likely to engage with tweets and posts that contain an image or a graphic that follows them. Unsurprisingly, in a uniform feed such as that on Twitter, images appear more striking than text posts containing links or hashtags. Hence the increased engagement with them.

Another aspect of social media strategy where design is of critical importance is, of course, presenting brand elements through profile and cover photos. Even though the content shared stands more chances of being viewed by fans and followers, such elements can greatly contribute to the efficiency of social media campaigns.


User-centered design of online ads

Similar to website design, online advertising campaigns heavily rely on design. As mentioned in this study on online banner advertising, people’s cognitive response examination found that design of banner ad element such as size, shape and color influence clicks. Therefore, choosing the appropriate format for an ad is one of the steps that may determine a campaign’s efficiency.

Furthermore, since most online advertising strategies focus on targeting and personalization, design should follow such trends. This means that a visual representation of the message should be captivating for a specific group of users, depending on the targeting criteria employed: gender, location, age…  There are even a number of tools for increasing customer engagement that enable you to analyze people’s behavior on your website and target them with specific ads based on the knowledge you gain this way.

Understanding how people interact with your website and how they generally behave online is essential for building a website that corresponds to a customer’s intended journey. Coupled with attention-grabbing design and a strategically placed call to action button, such ads are likely to drive a satisfying number of clicks.



The pace at which the World Wide Web is growing certainly requires regular adaptations. This is evident in the ways people consume online information, as well as in the types of content they choose to engage with. Therefore, for both marketers and web designers it becomes increasingly important to understand these changes in order to create effective brand materials.

Bojana Dobran

Bojana Dobran has been involved in the field of digital marketing for over three years. She currently works as a web content developer with a team of SEO consultants in Boston. Find her on Twitter – @acrylic_noons!