How to choose the right content for small screen experiences

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iStock by Getty Images

For many years, we’ve added images to our websites and blogs to splash some color on the walls of text.

But things have changed and we are starting to realize that images and videos have the ability to unlock the richness in content and deliver messages better than plain text ever could. Visuals have now evolved into primary tools that brands and companies use to define their personalities and drive the connection with their users.

And as we all progress into mobile-first entertainment, it is important to start to rethink how we can create compelling experiences for smaller screens. Do we use the same tried and tested images as the big-screen PCs and TVs? And how do we get around the limitations of the smaller screen? iStock by Getty Images, the leading stock content provider, shares the best methods for choosing the right content for the mobile-first generation.

Why are images important?

The numbers are staggering. Done right, images can increase engagement by up to 94%, and because visual material is processed about 60,000x faster than text, much more content can be communicated in much less time.

That’s why apps like SnapChat and Instagram are quickly overtaking text-based Twitter, taking selfies and sharing pictures have become key features in new products, and the excitement around camera drones and action cameras like GoPros is palpable.

 

First person point of view

When it comes to mobile devices, not only are we dealing with smaller screen sizes, but also screens that are usually held much closer to our eyes than a PC or TV. This opens a new opportunity for brands to free users from the distractions around them, and lets them jump into a visual experience from the first person point of view.

Powerful first person visuals, such as an exhilarating bungee jump, or a journey through a new country, or even re-picturing an everyday experience like riding a bicycle around town, move away from being narrative to being easy to relate to – so that you feel like you’re actually there. This encourages users to participate and engage with your content.

First person POV

 

So how do we spice things up? By mixing the perspectives. It doesn’t always have to be a person’s point of view. Playing with the unexpected, like running across a field from a dog’s perspective, or climbing up a flight of stairs from a baby’s perspective will offer a relatable setting with a unique and stimulating point of view.

First person POV

Super sensory

Super sensory takes you beyond looking at a picture, into invoking the senses of sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing to help you live the experience.

The most obvious way to super sensory is to stimulate more than just sight and sound. For instance, the trailer of the TV show, Homeland, combined thrilling video with tactile effects. So when a bomb goes off or when a car crashes, the viewer feels the vibrations as they see the events unfold.

With still images, the senses have to be stimulated by association by using up-close and personal images of familiar subjects. Much like how we salivate at a picture of a chocolate lava cake, or recoil at an image of a metal grinder throwing up sparks.

Smell the images

But to truly create an all-round sensory experience, don’t just paint big broad strokes, dive into the detail. For instance, users don’t just want a panoramic picture of Paris, they want to be visually stimulated with the bright colors at the farmers’ market, want to reach out and feel the iron of the Eiffel Tower, to vividly hear the sound of clinking champagne glasses, and to smell the butter from a freshly-baked tray of croissants.

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Tasting rain

Smartphone users want experiences that are less mediated to interact with the world around them. If we focus on one subject and one sense at a time, we amplify the experience and take away the screen that is standing between them and the experience.

What do people want?

Wonder, awe, inspiration, travel are the most searched terms for images for business, and for good reason. Travel narratives are powerful because not only do they make great plots, they are great metaphors for personal journeys. They play on our desire to see more, do more, and be more.

Epic perspective

Images depicting epic perspectives are especially sought after. These images do not necessarily include people in them, but perspectives to show how small we are on this planet.

For instance, Airbnb, who is technically an accommodation platform, displays breathtaking sights and amazing destinations on their website. They don’t look like a typical travel brochure, but they inspire visitors to explore the unknown and try something different. It’s a similar story on their Instagram feed where they showcase personal experiences and stories, and not pictures of their apartments as any other accommodation platform would.

Space imagery has also continued to grow fast, riding on our fascination with new technology and science, and it is also a timeless metaphor for curiosity and wonder.

Space

These images work well for mobile not only for their breathtaking qualities, but because they usually leave plenty of space for copy and action buttons.

What’s the takeaway?

Put simply, images for mobile is a new ballgame. There are many considerations to be made around the limitations of small screens, but also opportunities to unlock new experiences that were never possible on larger screens.

Sourcing content doesn’t need to be difficult. iStock by Getty Images offers over 8 million exclusive images & 4K video and for a limited period are offering new customers 12% off credits for their first purchase with code NEWSTONIC12. Sign up today! (offer expires October 31st 2016)

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