In the early days of the Internet images were few and far in between. Your typical website was just page after page of text (or worse, a single page of text about a mile long).
Now it would be hard to find a website that doesn’t have an image.
That’s not a bad thing. Images catch people’s attention, and a good image can often explain a concept better than words ever could (e.g. infographics).
And thanks to digital cameras and smartphones we have access to more photos of people, places and events than ever before.
But this doesn’t mean you can ignore your copy. Your words are still important. In fact, if you use images your words are more important than ever. Here’s why.
Good copy can make your image clearer
Remember the drawing where you can see either two faces or a wine glass? Neither one is wrong—it’s just the way you look at it.
Now the meaning behind your image probably isn’t so… well, black and white. And while you might think it couldn’t be interpreted any other way, there’s always a chance. And the last thing you want to do is confuse (or even annoy) your readers.
Complementing your image with good copy takes away the confusion. Your image still draws them in, but the copy makes it clear what you’re trying to say with it. And using the two together can make your message much more powerful.
Good copy can motivate your customers
If you want to see a great example of how words can motivate people, check out this Apple keynote presentation by the late Steve Jobs.
He certainly uses images—lots of them. And most of them don’t include any text whatsoever. So, is this an example of images making copy redundant?
The copy comes from Steve when he speaks. And while the images may be enough to pique people’s interest, it’s his words that make them want (if not need) to buy that iPad.
And his words aren’t just a bland sales pitch, either. He’s passionate about the iPad, and pretty soon his audience shares that passion. And by the end of his presentation half the audience are willing to trade a kidney to get their hands on one.
Good copy can bring your images to life
You may have a great product, and a great picture that shows it off in all its glory. But adding good copy can really make it come to life.
Got a photo showing the incredible view of the beach from the balcony of your seaside resort rooms? Great. Now tell everyone about falling asleep to the sound of waves lapping the shore, and feeling the ocean breeze on their face as they open the balcony doors.
Even the best images invoke only one of our senses. Combine them with good copy, and you can stimulate all five.
As I said, using images can be a good thing. But no matter how great they are, you still need good copy to complete the picture.