ITP Professor of Arts at NYU Tisch and Creative Director of L2 Katherine Dillon gave a talk at today’s clinic on the power of visual language, describing the subtle and not so subtle ways images affect us. Logos can be used to communicate with consumers’ conscious and subconscious minds; Gregory’s Coffee, Fedex, and others have leveraged their ubiquitous logos to insert hidden meanings. But even more subtle images and visuals sprinkled throughout a brand site and online properties have impact. For example, it matters whether users must click on a star or a heart to save an item to a wish list. In 2012, Airbnb changed the star on the “save to wishlist” button to a heart and observed a 30% spike in engagement just after four months. Today, 45% of Airbnb users create wishlist, partly because the heart indicates aspiration rather than a piece of a utilitarian list. Therefore, users feel more free to engage with items.

And today, Twitter announced during L2’s Sold clinic that it was forgoing its traditional method of positive reinforcement. The star that let users “favorite” a tweet was dropped in favor of a heart that let users “like” a tweet.

Just like the change in Twitter’s design is likely to boost engagement, visual tactics can be powerful tools for boosting participation and changing outcomes. Example: A small town in England witnessed a 50% increase in speed limit obedience after displaying a smiley face for those going the proper speed.

Members can see full presentation here.

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