Have you ever clicked on a celebrity “Now vs. Then” article? Come on, be honest (we’re all very curious about what childhood celebrities are up to today). Most of us are guilty of reading at least one of these clickbait articles, but there’s a reason why we see so many of these posts online—they work, and not just because of their attention-grabbing headlines. Strong, split screen visuals are often what sells these post before we even have the chance to read what they’re about.
Now, we’re not saying that all clickbait is successful, but the split screen visual taps into readers’ desire to see dramatic visuals, as well as creating a curiosity gap. The images don’t even have to be that different to grab an audience’s attention. This is where context comes into play—an audience might be shocked to see photos of how a landscape has changed over the past 50 years, but they’d probably be just as astonished to see that John Stamos hasn’t aged in the past 30 years.
Split screen visuals aren’t just for casual observations—they can serve as learning tools, tug on our heartstrings, or even be humorous. We’ll show you how these visuals interact with all of these categories and how stock photos fit into the mix.
The “Wow” Factor
Advertisers often use split screen images to create dynamic ads that will catch customers’ attention. In the example below, this stock photo of pasta and stock photo of an empty bowl show that the meal must have been delicious (or somebody was hungry) since the bowl has been scraped clean. The two images are visually very similar, but the disappearance of the pasta is dramatic and eye-catching.
Nothing sells like nostalgia. Often you’ll see split screen advertisements that portray the same subjects years apart or in different situations, but the added nostalgic element allows audiences to identify with the images. The result is still dramatic, but the visual is meant to evoke stronger emotions than an empty bowl of pasta.
These two stock images play on feelings of nostalgia by comparing images of similarly happy young and old couples. Even though the pictures aren’t of the same couple, they are similar enough to show that love is timeless.
Split-screen images aren’t just in advertisements and articles—they’ve become incredibly popular in viral humor and online memes, too. As with most internet fads, advertisers are now trying to use these memes in their own ad campaigns. The “Expectation vs. Reality” visual is hugely popular in advertisements and viral media alike, and it’s common for both to feature stock photos. We’ve provided our own example of this technique below.
Online tutorials often use split screen images to show how the difference the learned tools or techniques can make. The primary goal of these images is to get people’s attention; your tutorial won’t help anyone if you can’t get people to click.
Graphic design nerds like us love tutorials that lead with split-screen images. It saves time when you’re scouring the internet for specific tips, and it’s exciting to see how far your artwork can go.
From a business perspective, we know that our customers also like our split screen visuals. It makes sense—we all want to know what to expect from a tutorial. These images can also drum up enthusiasm for the skill that the image promotes.
Here are some of the most popular split screen images for our tutorials—and you can also check out the tutorial section of our blog.
Ready to create your own split screen visuals? Find your inspiration browsing our library of royalty-free stock images.