A thousand words is worth more than a picture

Mar 21, 2014 · 3 min read

A thousand words is worth more than a picture -- the tasselflower blog

Today I saw this nice and pretty about page of a blogger and a designer. It was a fully laid out with of lots of photos, graphics and text blocks of sweet fonts. The whole thing was one big image.

Images are filling the web. While lots of people are talking about the revolution of a video, images currently rule. In addition to basic photos and images websites are filled with infographics, selfies, cat photos, how-to-photos and photo collages to mention some. Those of us who know the power of Pinterest know we must add at least one photo per blog post to be shared there.

Even the previously wordy Twitter has implemented previews of images to Tweets and people claim they help with gaining attention and engagement. Buffer made a research about the engagement of image-enhanced Tweets. According to them especially the ReTweets and favourites multiplied when a Tweet had an image attached to it.

Images can drive traffic to your site. Through Pinterest and through the image searches of search engines, and perhaps other services too. And there are occasions when one picture says more than all the words we know. Unfortunately the images come with a couple of huge problems too.

For one lots of online folks don't remember to give their image files useful names. In addition renaming images is impossible on some of the devices we now use for taking and sharing photos. This leads to a web filled with images called photo1.jpg, 2014-03-13 18.06.55-1.jpg, IMG_5420.JPG and other not very descriptive letter and number combinations.

Then there are all the bloggers who don't know or care about alt texts. Alt text is an alternative text that is shown when a photo is for some reason not loaded. Using descriptive alt text also make it easier for pinners to pin the photo with the right description.

The thing that bothered me most about that about page which was but that one cutesy image is that it comes with huge accessibility problems. It's a pretty big picture so loading it with a bad connection is painful. It also doesn't tell a thing to those who cannot for some reason load the image at all or are using a screen reader to access the content of sites. Basically if you cannot see the image for a reason or another the about page is useless. The image didn't even have an alt text and it was named about2.png.

Now if the person doesn't for some reason care about those who cannot see the image I'm sure she cares about search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engines are half-blind with images. They pretty much rely to the text content of the page where image is found, the alts and the image file names. Thus an about page which consists of one image, which is named as something non-descriptive as about and doesn't even have an alt text doesn't tell much anything to a search engine.

One image may tell a whole story but it may as well leave a person and a search engine equally as confused. Sometimes it's best to use the words.

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