Words aren’t the only thing that matter in using publications to build your credibility as a financial expert. Visuals matter, too.
If your publication’s images aren’t consistent with its text, they’ll sap your credibility.
Examples of credibility sappers
At the simplest level, the mistake could be an article that talks about a four-step process, but an image that shows five steps.
However, the four versus five issue is an example of a mistake that any proofreader could catch. Not every mistake is that simple.
I’ve seen an article about long-term care insurance that was illustrated by paper-doll-style cutouts of an umbrella held over two parents and two little kids. The illustration was attractive, but more appropriate for an article about life insurance than one about long-term care insurance, where most claims are on behalf of older adults. To me, that inappropriate illustration shouted, “I don’t understand long-term care insurance.”
Evidence of credibility boosting
According to the Neuromarketing blog’s post on “Persuade with Pictures”:
A new study shows that text is more credible when accompanied by photos, even when the photos don’t support the point of the text!
That statement disturbs me. However, the same article says that the images must be relevant:
Don’t use random stock photos only vaguely related to the message you are trying to convey. The persuasive photos in the study were specific, even though they didn’t actually have any value as proof of the statement.
Nielsen Norman Group, a highly credible source on website usability says in “Photos as Web Content” that its eye-tracking research has found that:
- Some types of pictures are completely ignored. This is typically the case for big feel-good images that are purely decorative.
- Other types of pictures are treated as important content and scrutinized. Photos of products and real people (as opposed to stock photos of models) often fall into this category.
Nielsen Norman’s bottom line: “users pay attention to information-carrying images that show content that’s relevant to the task at hand.” Those images also build credibility.
Forget stock photos
By the way, stock photos (as noted in Nielsen Norman’s second bullet) generally don’t get positive reviews. If you say that’s all you can afford, believe me, I sympathize. I often use stock photos for that very reason, although, fortunately, I have a virtual assistant who customizes some images for me.