Why visuals are a must-try learning tool

People like visual stuff, right? Photos that accompany their newspaper and magazine articles, graphs and graphics that demonstrate and visualize some of the content of a report, pictures that support and augment a story: there’s no question that visual components help us understand the world around us.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that visuals really *do* help us learn. Consider this: does a graphic description help you get the idea of something more quickly than text? It probably does.  Here’s an example.


I’m willing to bet you knew within a fraction of a second what a circle was just by looking at the graphic representation. But if you didn’t see that and just had to read the text, you’d need to think about it for a second.

The graphic below outlines some fun statistics on how the brain processes graphics vs text, and offers some do-s and don’t-s for using visuals that apply whether you’re working on a school project, work project, website, or something else.  Check it out to learn more!

How Visuals Help Us Learn

  • 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual
  • The brain can process 36,000 visual cues in an hour
  • The brain takes about 1/10th of a second to get the idea of a visual scene
  • Almost 50% of your brain is involved in visual processing
  • Black and white images garner your attention for about 2/3 of a second
  • Color images garner your attention for 2+ seconds
  • The average consumer’s attention span is only about 8 seconds
  • The brain processes visual cues 60,000 times faster than text
  • 40% of nerve fibers are linked to the retina
  • The use of visuals improves learning outcomes by about 400%

Do-s and Don’t-s for Visual Use


  • Use visuals to help clarify complex ideas
  • Use visuals that represent people, places, and things
  • Use catchy visuals
  • Use visuals that help viewers make connections and understand new information
  • Use visuals that help viewers relate new information to what they already know


  • Use poor quality visuals, like things that are pixelated, stretched weird, sized improperly, or don’t fit in the space
  • Use ugly visuals
  • Use visuals that don’t make a clear connection to the material presented
  • Use irrelevant visuals, like a series of shapes that have no meaning
  • Use copyrighted visuals without permission!


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