If you thought the Internet was graphical before, you’re about to see a huge shift even further away from text.
Over the past number of months, we’ve seen the roots of this shift with Facebook’s Timeline, the rise of Pinterest and websites like the Winnipeg Sun going to more image-based formats.
Now, Facebook has upped the ante, paying $1 billion for Instagram.
For those not familiar with Instagram, it is an app that has taken the iPhone by storm thanks to instant picture-taking-and-editing capabilities. It debuted in October 2010 through iOS and only last week was made available for Android.
Images, generally speaking, are great accompaniments for websites and are good hooks for social media (I think we can all admit to paying a bit more attention to Tweets that link to a photo); but by no means should they replace your web content.
The biggest issue a photo has is that, unless you tag and title an image properly, you’re not going to get the Google ranks you want. There are some content programs, like Joomla, which make the task a little easier, but it’s something that’s easily forgotten if you’re not careful.
The other unfortunate side to photos is that the more you have up on your website, the longer it will take to load. This was a major epidemic in the late 1990s, when would-be web builders were making their websites more in Photoshop than Dreamweaver.
As a result, the web became cluttered with pages that chugged harder than an early 20th century train, and the toxicity of the burning coal those models used is right up there with the time pollution of images that were oversized and then shrunk down to fit properly on a web page.
Don’t take this as being a misdirected rant – I’m as much a fan of imagery as anyone; but the bread and butter of your website always has been and always will be great text content. Don’t skimp out on your words for the sake of another photo. Photos and graphics are important as complements to your words – they should not be substitutes.