By Dennis Mortensen In Events, WTD | September 2023

What is the right ratio of images to text? (WTD Atlantic 2023)

We were chuffed to have been chosen to host a talk on The Power of Product Screenshots in your Help Documentation at the Write the Docs Atlantic conference on September 12. It was a great couple of days learning all things software documentation with the passionate and engaging community that is Write the Docs. Thank you to everyone who took the time to listen to our talk and for all the thoughtful questions throughout.

LaunchBrightly The Power of Product Screenshots WTD Atlantic

Q: What do you think is the right ratio of number of images to text? I personally find a high number of screenshots annoying, because it interrupts my page scanning flow - Marta Gilberti

Hear hear, Marta. Like you, I am not a fan of bloated pages, so there is surely a bell curve with no images on one side, and a cartoon only on the other side.

I am not sure there is a good rule of thumb, or perhaps more honestly, I’ve not been able to spot a pattern I would be willing to advocate for myself.

Here’s some trivia collected from tens of thousands of support articles which we analyzed; and in that setting, we saw 2.72 images per traditional support page. [A]

I think some of the dimensions I would look at though, are:

  1. How proficient (tech savvy) is my audience with the subject matter. The more proficient they are, the fewer images we can probably get away with (1 image is the floor, as I do seek to provide some visual cue to my reader being in the right place)
  2. Type of documentation, where I do believe some step-by-step guides allow for an increased number of images, and as Abi suggested elsewhere, some people do like those IKEA instructions (I know, crazy, right!?)

[A] From data extracted and analyzed on August 17, 2023.


Alan: The idea of using product visuals to help the user confirm they're in the right place is something that seems obvious, but I've never thought about it in those terms before

You can see a summary of the talk and find a link to the recording here.

And you can also find a link to the other great questions from the chat below:

Got a question on product screenshots that wasn’t answered? Feel free to connect with us (Dennis, Josh) or email and ask directly! We’re always happy to chat :-)