05 Jul 2017
Peter Rowand
Marketing and Business Development

Are you reading this?  hOw aBoUT nOW?

 87% 87% of you will look at the graphic
before reading the article

Words need to be read, processed, and understood. But you can remember hundreds of images and recognize them instantly. Gone are the days of waiting: for dial up connections, for web pages to load. “Ain’t nobody got time for that!” says the spoiled instant gratification first world child. The last thing anyone seems to have these days is time.

I want what I want,now. Actually, yesterday would have been better for me. And I’m not unique. In fact I represent the new era of the employee. I expect these things now (like your younger crews and shore-based staff) and the businesses that figure out how to give this to me are going to have a better chance of winning my loyalty. Luckily, companies in the business of communicating information (who get it) are responding to the increasing volume of instant knowledge seekers by using graphics to deliver information. Graphics and images are not only a quick way to absorb new information, but a better way for so many people to absorb that information because that’s how they process.

How much faster can you interpret the graphic vs the words?

Heart A red heart, outlined in a thin black line. The red is poorly coloured in. it isn’t fully coloured in and even goes outside of the thin black line.
 buildings  A city scape of four buildings outlined in red. There is a small building in front which is longer than it is tall. The other three buildings are taller than they are long.  One has three antennas on it, another is pointed at the top, and the third is the tallest building in the image.
 dog walking  A red headed girl is wearing a skirt. She has one hand on her hip and the other is holding a leash. She is walking her dog. The dog’s ears and tail are up and it’s tongue is out.

Granted, there are times when we need the words to get all the information that we’re looking for. However, reading and comprehending are two different things. If you want to your message to stick in memory, pair your words with a graphic. The information you read is stored in your short term memory, and it’s a short list – typically you can only store 5-7 things in your short term memory. When you pair the information with an image, or graphic, the information more easily passes into long term memory where you can access it later. In fact, that’s one of the basic premises of mnemonics – a mental process for improving memory.

It’s true, not everybody needs images. I get jealous whenever I meet people that sponge up every inch of information that they read or hear, graphic or no graphic. But in my experience, those special people tend to fall into the minority.

It’s easy to make things complicated, and un-fun, and hard to understand. Wouldn’t you prefer more simplicity (and even some fun) in your day-to-day? At Helm we use graphics throughout our software; we insert memes into our emails; we doodle in our webinars and on our whiteboards. We use graphics to make our days and your days more enjoyable – because that’s just a reflection of who we are. But there’s also some method to our madness.

Helm CONNECT, our maintenance and compliance software, uses graphics throughout the system, so that you can navigate and easily adopt it within just a few minutes of training. That’s specifically by design, and borne out of much research our product team has done about learning and design.

Here are some examples of how we make user adoption successful in Helm CONNECT:

Anytime there is a task associated with one of our modules, it will use the same icon so that you know what the task is related to

Helm apps

In HSQE, there are more than 27 different levels of priority, which can be confusing and overwhelming. Most industry folks we talk to say they just want three levels of priority. So in Helm CONNECT we’ve kept our priority levels to just three levels.


Looks pretty simple right? Bingo! Consistent. Easy to understand. Intuitive.

So whether you want to absorb more information, or want others to comprehend your message better, try using graphics – you’ll be amazed how much more memorable things become.