“You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at a picture for a second and think of it all your life.” – Joan Miro

Artists have always known the power of pictures as both a means of expression and a way to communicate. Philosophers have too. Aristotle said, “without image, thinking is impossible.” He was right. The alphabet is image-centric. We learn to draw letters. These drawings make words that we put thought to.

In the last decade specifically, society as a whole has shifted towards communicating visually. From retail displays and HD television monitors, to educational tools and the web, images are replacing text like never before.

The return of a visual society.

Cavemen made hieroglyphics, Leonardo da Vinci translated words into drawings, and today history repeats. Except unlike past eras, today we are massive consumers and creators of visual – think of the Vine, Instagram, Snapchat or YouTube, where every minute 300 hours of video is uploaded. Even Facebook is shifting towards more video. Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day. Photos, videos and graphics are engaging us in new, highly emotional ways. What you used to send in a letter, you can now express in a video or photo and send instantly. Our interactions with these visual tools are changing how we communicate and experience, learn and process. They are opening our world to new understanding. They are making us smarter.

The web, mobile, and visual communication.

The web has played a massive part in this phenomena. Visuals constantly inform our online experience. Just look at how large images are on FastCompany.com! This phenomena has gone beyond the web, too. Entire companies like Duarte Design who specialize in visual presentations are seeking to “elevate the quality of everyday communications through presentations as inspiration.” HP echoes similar thoughts in The Power of Visual Communication stating “that people remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.” The more visual, the more information retention, the more information is moved forward. If as a business you’re not leveraging the power of visuals, you’re limiting your opportunity. Period.

Visuals make sense of data.

So why the craze? What is it about visuals that have us all wide-eyed? Simply put, visuals help us make sense of things. We live in a digital world where we are ever-inundated with information. We are desperate to make sense of all the data we’re taking in. According to an article on Good.is, “Americans consume 3.6 zettabytes (one zettabyte is one billion trillion bytes) per day.” Wow. That includes data from the computer, TV, radio, phone, and reading. How are we supposed to properly digest all of this data and maintain sanity? The answer seems to be in visuals. It’s the simple truth that some information is far better conveyed visually than in writing.

Visual communication and the human face.

Of all the information we take in on a daily basis, perhaps the most crucial to our relationships, our work, and our lives, is the data we take in when we look at the face of another human being. We are naturally very tuned-in to the subtle nuances of the face and derive essential information therein. This is why video is so important to communication. Video bridges the gap that technology often lacks by bringing people face to face, increasing connection, and creating larger impact.

Using visuals to communicate is no longer an option, it is an absolute for individuals and businesses alike desiring to make real connections that yield meaningful data. What are you doing to create visual experiences?