I like reading a post that includes an image, especially if the image being used is personal (i.e., not just stock photography). Even with stock photography, though, an image gives the eye a little break. It’s a good design tool for most blog posts.
Notice I said “most” in my previous sentence. A lot of bloggers will tell you that you have to use images with every single blog post. I disagree. I think there are a few cases when images aren’t necessary, and today, I’d like to make an argument for those situations.
- You need to get news out as quickly as possible.
If you read breaking news on any of the major news sites or aggregation sites, you’ll notice that posts change throughout the day as more information comes in. What starts as a one-paragraph post turns into a much longer piece by the end of the day. It’s not just about text, though. If you need to get a breaking news story out as quickly as possible, it makes sense to forget the picture, at least for the time being. Just post the news. You can make the post more eye-pleasing in the future.
- You use other visuals to help break up the text.
For example, in this post I’m using bullet points. Numbered lists, videos, and other visuals can also help make the text more manageable. If you already have a ton of visual interest on your site (i.e., there’s a lot going on with ads, the sidebar, etc) you might not need a picture too, unless the post calls for one.
- Simplicity fits your audience.
If your audience doesn’t mind reading text without tons of visual interest, maybe it makes sense to simply concentrate on the text of the post. Not sure? Poll your readers. If they don’t care about pictures, adding stock photography just for the sake of having an image might be a waste of your time.
- It’s an important announcement where images make no difference.
For example, let’s say that you ran a contest on your blog and are announcing the winner. People will read that post to find out if they won regardless of whether or not you have a picture with the text. Of course, you still want the post to be eye-pleasing, but if there’s no picture necessary to make your announcement, it might make sense not to include one.
I want to caution against using these points to justify being lazy. Like many others out there, I’m sure, formatting is my least favorite part of using a blog post. Make sure it truly makes sense not to use images, though – don’t just tell yourself that you don’t have to put in that little bit of work because Allison said so. :-p
Most of the time it makes sense to use an image – and if your theme pulls them for thumbnails on the homepage, like here at the BlogWorld blog, always include one rather than having a blank box on the homepage or, worse, breaking your theme. I just wanted to illustrate how a common blogging “rule” isn’t 100% the best rule to follow every single time for every single blogger. When it comes to images, do what fits best for your blog and for your individual posts.
Do you use images in every single blog post? Why or why not?