Digital Strategy encompasses many things: planning, tactics, metadata. We can speak of algorithms, of search, connectivity. But none of that addresses a critical truth: the internet is a visual medium — visual, as in graphics, pictures, charts, illustrations, artwork, infographics, animation. There’s even a bona fide digital era category, CGI — computer-generated imagery.
Strategic digital actions are wisely taken when using visuals on a website, more relating to findability than to the actual image. Proper coding, being sure the metadata is in pace so search engines can “see” the visuals, is essential. But that’s under-the-hood detail.
More to the point, visual web content viewed online can, and in some cases must, be aided by tool tips. Tool tips are those small factoids or data clarifiers, all but floating captions in some cases. They are invisible until the mouse hovers over the graphic.
But what about mobile sites, viewed on tablets and phones? No mouse is in use there, so what to do? Then answer is cards. What are cards? This is the use of cards (sometimes mistakenly referred to as tiles — cards have rounded edges; tiles are squared at the corners) which contain all the necessary text.
This can be described as using visual shorthand to direct the visitor to click through to their specific or general content area of choice. Facebook, Pinterest and Spotify make significant use of cards. Card-style interface is a hot topic among web designers and developers alike.
Another perspective on cards is as a Table of Contents or a traffic director. The card and its content contain words, sentences, a picture or photo, all as an allure, an enticement, an invitation to click through for more. Cards require a smaller footprint, using less online real estate. For mobile this is a designer’s delight: using less space (on the smaller screen of a tablet or smartphone) to attract a click through to view longer form content.
Dean Landsman, Principal, Landsman Communications Group, New York City.