The Art of Visual Storytelling (& Advertising)

NG blogger Robert Stone quit on Friday because he objected to how The Great Energy Challenge was being shaped by Shell, the project’s sole sponsor.

Before you evaluate Robert’s logic and his decision to leave, take a step back and ask a very National Geographic question: What’s the visual story here? What are National Geographic & Shell saying graphically? What’s the takeaway when you encounter a web page like this one?

Note the visual hierarchy — where your eyes go first, second, third… and, if you’re still paying attention, maybe fourth. Note the colors, too: Shell Yellow is almost the same hue as NG Yellow, which provides some chromatic glue for the “partnership.”

The screenshot (above) also reminds us of an inconvenient truth that’s long been common wisdom at National Geographic headquarters:

The words are just
the gray border for the pictures.

(That’s been a source of frustration for many National Geographic writers, but it always makes the Magazine’s photo folks smile.)


NO NEW POSTS will be published here after February 6, 2014. THIS IS WHY.