I'm probably weird, but I want no images. Not only for page speed reasons, or for retina/non-retina reasons; but for the simple fact that getting images right is very hard. And, unfortunately, very often we get them wrong.
By wrong I mean that they do not communicate what we intend them to. Or they don't communicate anything at all because we just found something to put with some textual content because we felt it was important to do so; or that it's always been done that way. And, lets be honest, most of the time, we settle for imagery that falls into a category like I described above.
Why? This could be a few different reasons, or a combination of a few. One might be to the uber-unique content/business that your client serves; meaning that its just too damn hard to be able to describe what this is easily, and well, in one image. Another reason might be lack of budget. Really good imagery is not always cheap. Stock photography certainly has its use of course, but what I'm referring to here is most certainly not stock. And to get good, unique imagery you’ll have to pay for it.
Maybe so, but more often than not I see sites that imagery that does nothing but detract from the message. Shit, the images I use on here (for the header areas) are just visual add-ons I used, but I'm pretty sure they don't help sell me as a designer or dev, or a writer for that matter. When I was doing print design, I used to scour iStockPhoto and Shutterstock, and in doing so I got pretty familiar with the models that were used frequently for a variety of shoots, and I could spot them in the real world. Not good from a branding / messaing point of view.
I don't mean to say that there are no sites out there not using images effectively. Of course not, there are a lot of them that do use them well. But I've more often than not run into just fluff imagery.
I was perusing article on Feedly and Flipboard last night and got to thinking, especially in this case, that the images being shown for all/some articles were adding nothing. At best they just muddled the ability for me to easy digest the title of the article, and at worst they actually made the title hard to read because of poor contrast. Obviously neither Feedly or Flipboard are responsible for the imagery used, but I think they'd be much better suited to just leave the images out, at least on the listing pages where users are trying to decipher what to read and what not to read. This, for me at least, would certainly improve scannability and thusly improve my enjoyment of the app.
Let's take this screenshot from Feedly for example:
And now with my hack job update:
It's obviously not perfect in terms of spacing & it's using the same title repeatedly, but you get the concept. My eye is much more quickly able to scan through the headlines and pick out which I might want to read and which I'd probably just want to skip over. Plus, with images of that size, they weren't adding anything of value to whether I was going to read the article or not.
Take the Streaming Music Service 'Daisy' story. It's a fucking daisy, literally. Even if that is the logo for it, who cares, it's not out yet, and most importantly it only detracts from precious real estate and scannability.
Maybe so, maybe so. But really think about the two screenshots -- is it just me, or isn't the image-less one easier to scan, and easier to make a decision to read or to move on? Also, not to hard again, but without loading images then the stories will load that much quicker, especially for slower network connections.
But, thems my thoughts on all this. And, maybe I have an app idea here...
Mused on March 07, 2013