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Add Spice To Business Documents! (8 Tips for Inspired Visuals)

It’s a magical time for business documents everywhere.

Let’s face it: they’ve had a crazy couple of decades. They must look back on those zen years — when an empty typewriter ribbon was the most of their worries — and chuckle nostalgically. “Why,” they laugh, “It feels like just yesterday computers got color screens. Just minutes since Word took over the world.”

But then the big change hits — the one that alters the course of business documents forevermore. It’s the SaaS-ification of business tools, the rise of the web app ever-open on the laptop, the constant whirr of email notifications and requests to share files.

With the advent of infinitely shareable, brilliantly collaborative tools like Google Drive, SlideShare, and Dropbox, a few special things happened to the boring docs we all know but have only recently learned to love.

Namely, the lines between docs began to blur. Once everything is online anyways, who’s to say that a business proposal can’t double as a presentation deck to show investors? Or that your press release and pinnable infographic can’t be one in the same?

More importantly, who’s to say everything can’t be beautiful, powerful, shareable? Why shouldn’t every single document — work-centric or otherwise — be its own little work of art?

So without further ado, we present to you 8 tips on using visuals to change up those boring docs and make the most of this business doc renaissance we’ve (wonderfully!) got going on.

1. Mix it up. Variety is the spice of life, right? It’s also the spice of — let’s say — slide decks and Word docs. Keep conscious tabs on the subjects, color schemes, shapes, and sizes of your images. You may even want to start a tracker of sorts to see what images you’re using to rep your brand and make sure you’re working towards a recipe that feels right.

2. Get comfy with weird. It’s called “visual interest” for a reason. You want something to stop your viewers in their tracks, get them to take a second look at your content. One double-take tactic is to choose images that cause some cognitive dissonance or make you puzzle over how something could be possible. Taking a weirder route is just one more way to make your clients curious.

3. Don’t be so literal. A contact page calls for a photo of a phone… right? Well…yes but you can definitely do better! When you stop taking your text so literally, you open the door for much more interesting imagery.

4. Make it a stretch. In fact, you might want to keep the subject of your photo a few steps removed from the topic it taps into. Try a UFO on that contact page or a fish on a slide about drinks. Let your associations roam free, and don’t be afraid to take a risk or two along the way.

5. Shun the clip art. Just say “no” to cartoon handshakes and thought bubbles circling question marks. With so much beautiful imagery at your disposal, there’s no reason to dip back into your ‘90s word art repertoire.

Vector - An image of a handshake.

6. Shoot for emotion. Before you drop that next photo in place, ask yourself: “How does this image make me feel?” If your answer’s, “Not much,” then pick again. You want a definite heartstring tug of some sort if your business documents are to be as powerful as possible.

7. See what resonates. With all the document analytics apps available now, it’s easier than ever to check up on the impact your visuals make. Upload your most oft-sent docs to a tool that gives you insight into who looks at which page when. Knowing which images kept clients fixated can help steer your brand right.

8. Be the whole package. Obvious maybe, but the impression you portray isn’t limited to the contents of your docs. Once you invest the time to beautify the materials you use to do business, take stock of how they’re presented. You may need to create a similar visual audit of your website, social pages, or email templates to be sure your images are as polished as can be.

How do you use visuals to spice up your business documents? Leave a comment and let us know!

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