Words, tone and body language together help us when we communicate with people. It is not an easy task to set the tone and send the right message across without hand gestures, expressions and few random anecdotes. As a speaker, your job is to carefully align the thoughts of your audience with yours and quell all the prejudices with which they joined the conversation. Tough, but not impossible.
Things can get much tougher when you do not have the advantage of using either body language or verbal communication. Consider the case of designing web pages. Website happens to be the main marketing and communication tool for any company. It has a large responsibility for promoting and assuring the onlooker that your business is trustworthy. The challenge is enormous, and the attention spans are minuscule. You need to set the context right in less than 5 seconds and gain the confidence of users.
Information overload, attractive colours, vibrant graphic elements and a lot more were tried over a period. Some didn’t work, and some continue to work until today. But none works the way a picture would do if the need is to set an emotion as a tone.
Consider this; you are an owner of a play school and are in need of a website. Your designer comes up with a representation that has a varied degree of vibrant colours and a lot of graphical elements that please children. Might also have added a rhyme or two looping in the background! But the fact is, all of these do not matter. Because parents are the ones, who see the website and not the wannabe kindergarten graduates. And all that a parent needs, in this case, is an element of assurance that his/her kid is going to be safe and happy. They would expect an emotional tone of ‘reliability’. Just reimagine the layout with a background photograph that has a collage of pictures of kids playing OR a few happy kids having a laugh OR just a large photograph of a teacher and a child standing in front of the school with compassion written all over the teacher’s face!
The tone gets set.
Photographs do the job of setting the emotional tone perfectly. And a short-length video running in the background does even better.
Few words of caution
Photographs or Videos in the background are great. But, please make sure you keep the following things in mind, before going for that approach.
- Layouts, with photographs playing a dominant role, have everything dependent on the way the picture is snapped. The photograph’s content, composition and tone become the properties of your website. If you fail to get the picture right, then the site can fail as well. So be very careful with stock photos.
- Is it necessary for you to set a strong emotional tone or is it fine even without that? In other words, can you do the job without pictures? If the answers are yes and no respectively, then choose photographs.
- Background videos can be distractive if they are loud in their content and busy with activity. Get your videos shot according to the need and if possible, try to obscure them with the help of a foreground colour in a subtle manner. And that foreground colour needs to aid the emotion and not disturb it.
- It can be a challenge placing text over the photographs/videos. Obscuring layers, Text shadows and gradient overlays are few techniques you may employ.
Background photographs and Videos add a lot of excitement and emotional value to storytelling. When used with sensibility, they can establish great user engagement.