Blog Post 3: “Understanding Graphic Design”

bfIs Graphic Design a Must or a Bust?

Online websites have taken over the news industry. We have sites completely dedicated to new content from beauty to politics to sports. But does use graphic designs/images on websites help or hurt the material? I looked to BuzzFeed for the answer.


Initial Reaction of the Website

I took the time to analyze why these websites have become the primary outlet for receiving news information. I decided to analyze my favorite new source, BuzzFeed. My initial reaction of the site is that it includes an abundance of good graphic design, from videos, to images, to interactive quizzes. After reading the Importance in Visual Rhetoric, I had high expectations for the website’s graphics. Daniel Richard discusses the power of images and how websites can use this aesthetic technique to target ethos, pathos, or logos.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” Buzzfeed took this phrase to heart and opted for shortly written captions with a focus on graphic design and images. By using visual communication, BuzzFeed is appealing to America’s fast-paced lifestyle. I learned that on average when looking at a website, the typical human attention span is around eight seconds. This means that Buzzfeed only has 8 seconds to convince the audience to read their articles. BuzzFeed leverages concepts of a good graphic by using images to catch the readers attention opposed to written news previews.

How Does BuzzFeed Appeal to the Reader using Graphics?

Like I mentioned above, images are a great way to target ethos, pathos, and logos. In just 8 seconds, the image can illustrate, the tone, message, and create a visual example of the article without even having to use one word. BuzzFeed has accepted that Americans live a fast-paced life and that they want their news to be given to them compressed, clearly, and quickly. They have adapted and appealed to this lifestyle by promoting good graphic design over prominently written content.

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A Look at the Website

If you look at the screenshot of the website to the left you can see how user-centered this design is. Each image combines a photo with a graphic design that sets the tone (emoji). The images are large, clear and focused. Even if this was your first time visiting the website, the images are organized by categories making the interactive site extremely accessible.

How to Pick the Best Graphic

In the Lynda lecture, Having a Focal Point, John McWade discusses the importance of graphics. McWade states that it is not enough to have “good words,” you need to have “good looking words.” This means that in websites today it is not enough to have a strong article you also need to use strong visual rhetoric to appeal to your audience. What is the best way to appeal to the audience? Keep it simple. McWade says simple is ideal because it is “less to look at, less to process, less to think about.” McWade’s point about simplicity supports my research about attention spans. By keeping your graphics simple, you are more likely to appeal to your audience.

As you can see above, BuzzFeed keeps their visuals simple. For each article, they use one image with one small graphic imprinted onto the image. McWade asserts that designers, “shouldn’t be putting  words up on the screen at all.” Using too many words becomes overwhelming for readers. McWade thinks using a picture or graphic, like Buzzfeed is displaying above, makes your content user-centered and straightforward.

Is BuzzFeed Successful in Using Graphics to Appeal to an Audience?

Taking the tips, I have learned from Daniel Richards and John McWade; I do believe BuzzFeed has successfully mastered the use of graphics. BuzzFeed uses images over words to convey tone and information to the readers which is something Daniel Richards was adamant about when discussing what makes a successful website. BuzzFeed also uses simple visual design to appeal to the short attention spans of most viewers, which is something John McWade said can make or break a website. I believe BuzzFeed has figured out that less is more when it comes to text and the best way to appeal to the audience is through a visual representation of the content within the article. I have learned how important using visuals and graphics are and I think BuzzFeed is an excellent example of how opting for visuals over text is a great user-friendly way to grab your readers attention.

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