How I Got Clobbered with Eye Candy, Click Bait, and Decorative Visuals
The intentions are good. The results are not what I expected.
In some cases, I have been accused of going over the top with click bait by using a picture of an attractive woman in a flashy dress. In two cases, I have been called sexist (I wonder if the charge would be the same if I used an attractive man). Only one person has picked up on the association between eyeglasses and candy. No one has commented on the content of the article. And the overall response has been less than I expected.
My intentions were good. I have been asked many times in my communication workshops about the role of decorative visuals. A discussion of them is now included in the upcoming second edition of my 2017 book. Obviously, the subject is a good one for a brief article on Communicating with FINESSE.
I went to one of my favorite image sites and clicked combinations of words like "decoration," "flashy," "distraction," and "noise.” One particular picture of an attractive woman on the arm of an attractive man in a group of people popped up. "Hmmm," I thought," that looks like eye candy." Then the keywords of "eye" and "candy" produced a group of images that included the one that I used.
I love the nuance of this image. Yes, the image is a form of click bait -- defined as content whose main purpose is to attract attention and encourage visitors to click on a link to a particular web page. Yes, some eye candy is involved -- defined as something superficially attractive to look at. However, therein lies the play of the "eye" (eyeglasses) and the "candy ."Eye candy is really what I think decorative visuals are, and eye candy makes for a better title than decorative or superficial.
If you go down the path of decorative visuals, then grabbing attention is part of the game. The play of eyes and candy ties the visual, to the catchy title, to the article. Perfect, right? Wrong. Few people are reading the article and its message.
In a very backward way, the image makes the point that decorative visuals usually produce noise that distracts from the message being understood by the receiver. It turns out that I did not even have to write the article. The decorative visual and title made the point.