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[2011 trends] Exciting times in the visual communications industry
Life after death by PowerPoint:
As presentation technology becomes more sophisticated, audiences will come to expect high-end, flashy presentations that use the full functionality of what today's presentation programmes have to offer.
Microsoft's latest version of PowerPoint, for example, brings huge advances in video and animation capability which means the program has more to offer than ever before. We'll also see an uptake in the use of Prezi, a web-based, Flash presentation tool that uses a single canvas instead of the traditional slide show as its mechanism and allows presenters to interact with their content.
Social media goes visual:
Video and photo content will be the focus of social media platforms in 2011. YouTube is already the second most popular search engine after Google, and as far as searches go, posts with visual content most often feature at the top. It's inevitable then that social marketers will use visuals as their prime bait in 2011.
Not lost in translation:
With communicators taking heed of the multilingual dynamics that exist in many business environments, they will acknowledge the need to present their ideas in a universal medium. To ensure messages don't get lost in translation, communicators will increasingly use visual means such as images to convey their message.
No longer will viewers be restricted to just watching visual material. Expect to see more online content where viewers can interact with the video and have a say in the outcome. It is this capability that will make interactive smart videos a hot viral marketing success in 2011.
Internal communication goes visual:
Due to its ability to engage stakeholders in ways that other forms of communication cannot, visual communication will infiltrate further into the internal areas of business that were traditionally kept on paper.
The use of visuals to engage staff in induction programmes, for example, will become more pervasive. We can also expect to see more visuals in high stakes scenarios, such as the launch of new projects or big board meetings, where employee and shareholder buy-in is key.
Just as consumers are seeking refuge in simplified design, so too are companies looking to unclutter their visual communication. Design across all forms of visual communication will revert to its core design principles - clean lines, use of negative space, appropriate use of imagery and colour, and no unnecessary decoration.
Instant gratification information:
Here we see another extension of our personal lives into the business environment. People don't want to spend time interpreting information. They want to understand now so that they can act immediately, if necessary.
So, expect to see more text being replaced by appropriate imagery - because images require much less processing than text, helping audiences quickly digest and understand content.
The creative corporation:
After years of economic pressure, consumers need some levity and will be looking for a sense of fun in their lives. This requirement will extend into their work as well.
To satisfy this need, companies must inject creativity into their day-to-activities, especially in communication. As a result, we'll see visuals being used daringly to grab attention and get employees talking and then acting.
Animation on the rise:
If a picture's worth a thousand words, what's a moving picture worth? Animation will be used increasingly to bring information to life, especially in industries such as IT where animation makes invisible concepts such as cloud computing more tangible.
Visuals will be used to do more than just convey information. In 2011, visual storytelling will start to surface as communicators recognise the need to engage audiences.
Infographics were a big trend in 2010 and this year we can expect to see even more raw data being converted into powerful stories. Rather than just impart statistics, media such as infographics will be used to make these statistics meaningful.
2010 did not deliver the much-anticipated technology that would allow email to play videos seamlessly within the body of an email. If this happens in 2011, the realm of visual communication will enter a new era.