Visual Web Increases in Popularity

Stephen Yagielowicz

Have you tried navigating a standard website using a mobile device? For a growing number of users, the answer is “Yes, and it was very frustrating” — unless of course they were visiting one of a new generation of visually-oriented websites, which focus more on image and video content, rather than text, represent the fastest growing market segment of sites today.

Pinterest and Instagram point the way to the future of the web — and “point” is the right word to describe this evolutional transformation that is moving the navigational metaphor away from mouse clicks and into the tap of a big, bright, user-friendly button.

While dialog may not be priority number one for adult consumers, there is a segment of the marketplace that seeks this level of interactivity, and it is easy enough to add.

For all its noteworthiness as “new” technology, Pinterest offers a well designed TGP-style layout that is familiar to many adult Internet users, coupled with innovative features that leverage social media. While the technological aspects of the Pinterest approach are a significant step ahead of old-school adult websites, an important part of the site’s success (as well as an important part of the popularity of TGPs, MGPs and tube sites) is that users can simply select the content they want, or the action they wish to perform, by pointing.

It’s an ingrained instinct — just like reaching up to pick some fresh fruit off of a tree — and it lends itself nicely to accessing content via a tablet, TV and beyond.

According to Ben Hovaness of TBG Digital, the biggest issue with Pinterest is that there’s not much in the way of dialog on the site.

“Of the three different types of interaction [likes, re-pins and comments], comments account for a tiny minority of activity,” Hovaness explained. “Without conversation, it will be tough for Pinterest to retain its users over time.”

While dialog may not be priority number one for adult consumers, there is a segment of the marketplace that seeks this level of interactivity, and it is easy enough to add.

For those interested in shooting and sharing their own images, rather than simply pinning and re-pinning other folks’ material, Instagram has become the go-to solution for many Smartphone users. Integrated with Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, Instagram trains users to better interact with their photos, by using tags, and reinforces the value of proper composition, color and form, due to the image viewing constraints of mobile platforms.

These and other visual applications are finding traction with touch-savvy consumers, who regardless of language ability, cultural background, or even their state of sobriety, find their way around with ease. This ubiquitous accessibility is especially suited to tablet and other large-screen devices and will doubtless find its way into more desktop systems.

Lessons for adult designers and marketers serving a global audience include offering highly visual, thumb-based navigation, rather than relying on textual links alone, and integrating social commenting features in an unobtrusive manner for those visitors who desire such capabilities. Keep in mind, however, that allowing user uploads, notes or votes, opens the door to spammers and will require some effort at moderation.

Think pursuing visual metaphors is a waste of time? Despite its comparatively modest visitor volume, Pinterest reportedly refers more website traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined — illustrating the site’s potential to marketers and its underlying appeal to users. Figure out a killer visual application for adult content and you will profit.

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