Saving Time Through Visual Communication

Michael Roberts

Any search on the web will tell you that visual content tends to be more effective, especially when it comes to social media engagement. Many brands have conducted their own internal studies as use cases to prove this. Not all of those statistics are accurate (I mean…. it is the internet), but common knowledge and experience suggests there is truth to the idea that visual is better. We sure believe it at CloudApp, so I set out to try and test the difference myself. 

I ran a little experiment to see how much time I could save by communicating visually. There are two ends to this experiment, the time I saved creating the content and sending it, and then the time saved by the recipient reading and understanding the content. Disclaimer: this by no means reflects the rigor required through statistical analysis. It was just a single, anecdotal test. 

The first side of the experiment was creating the content. I created a fake scenario where I would send some website edits to a designer. I identified three potential changes, and then timed myself taking a screenshot and putting that into an email, as well as writing out the instructions and putting them into an email. 

The screenshot version took 117 seconds to create.

The text based version took 133 seconds to create.

A time savings of 13.7%.

The second part of this was how quickly an individual could “clearly understand” the instructions I placed in an email. I sent this to two co-workers at CloudApp, previously explaining what I was doing but not telling them which version they would get. I told them to start a timer, open the email, and then read the instructions and stop the timer when they felt like they could adequately understand the instructions. 

One individual received an email with a screenshot for the instructions, while the other received text instructions with a link to the website for reference. 

Here’s a copy of the email I sent with a screenshot:

Hey,

I think we might wanna make the following changes to the website. Let me know what you think.

https://share.getcloudapp.com/NQuqRve4 

Thanks!

Visual Design Feedback to Save Time


Here’s a copy of the email I sent with just text instructions:

Hey,

I think we might need to make the following changes to the website.

The first is with the menu. It would be good to put an "About Us" section in between "Why CloudApp" and "Solutions. 

It would also be good to decrease the space between the tagline and the menu, so let's bring up the tag line content.

Let's also change the language on the "Sign Up Free" CTA to "Start Now". I only want the big CTA language changed, not the sign up button at the top right.

Hope this all makes sense! Here's the website https://www.getcloudapp.com/

Thanks!


My co-worker who received the screenshot took 24 seconds to “adequately understand”, while my co-worker who received the text timed 27 seconds, a 12.5% savings. Disclaimer, these were both CloudApp employees and so some kind of bias might have been there, but they weren’t aware of each other’s times.

So what does this mean? Keep in mind it’s just a single example, but let’s pretend that you spend 1 hour per day sending/receiving text content that could be communicated visually instead. That would be roughly 222 hours of work per year. If you were to shave 12% off of that, you’d save over 26 hours worth of work time…. That’s 3 whole work days! 

The application of this is impactful, particularly in roles such as customer support whose objectives are to close tickets quickly. Buffer, a client of CloudApp’s, saves hours of time each week in their customer support group. One of their employees even shared with us that 40% of her emails contained a CloudApp link. This seems to highlight the impact that visual communication can have on clarity and productivity.

These are just a couple of use cases, but as I continue to share screenshots back and forth with co-workers and my support tickets, I find that I’m both saving time in creating the communication, and that I do a better job understanding communication. 

Give it a try! Make sure to download Cloudapp, and next time you have to send feedback or instructions, test to see if using a screenshot/video is faster than typing it out. We’re confident you’ll find favorable results.



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