Visuals are a central part of communication along with vernal elements. Conveying specific data and used to illustrate an idea or a concept, pictograms as a segment of visual data used in a range of scenarios and contexts. Although pictograms as visuals can contain a significant amount of information, they become quite difficult to use when the information in question suggests complex relationships between key facts and represents a large text.
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The opportunity to convey clear and unambiguous ideas with the help of short and concise messages is one of the main advantages of pictography. Once the meaning of every pictogram is clear, and they are strung into a short and easily understandable sequence, they can deliver a palatable message quickly. In addition, pictographs allow planning communication carefully, which is a crucial advantage in environments that require a careful choice of language and can be characterized as multicultural (Hiranchiracheep et al., 2018). Since pictographs incorporate preset meanings that, for the most part, can only be interpreted in one way, it is possible to create an outline of a future conversation and structure it in the required way to ensure that the communication process should not deviate from the subject matter.
Another important advantage of pictography is the fact that a range of the symbols used in it is understood homogenously across cultures and, therefore, can be used to communicate essential messages in a cross-cultural and multilingual environment. Indeed, given the fact that a range of images and icons have gained the status of international elements of the graphic lingua franca, such as the pictograms used in the digital setting to signify the functions of saving or deleting a file, the threat of misunderstandings is driven to a minimum when using simple pictograms for basic messages (Veytia-Bucheli et al., 2020). Therefore, visuals must be incorporated into the communication process as a tool for introducing clarity and illustrating specific points more accurately.
Despite being very useful when there is the need to represent specific notions, ideas, and objects due to their preset meaning, pictographs can only represent a simplified version of the relationships that need to be portrayed. Moreover, while carrying a complex meaning individually, pictograms are rather difficult to combine in order to produce a cohesive string of ideas. Therefore, the application of pictographs must be restricted to the contexts in which their meaning cannot possibly be misread (Wolk et al., 2017). In other, more ambiguous settings, where complex links between different pictographs must be introduced, the specified tool is rendered almost useless due to the multiple meanings that can be read into the message and, therefore, the massive amount of confusion that may ensue.
Although pictography provides a very simple language for conveying basic information, its usage becomes increasingly difficult as the complexity of the message rises. Therefore, the application of visual elements in a conversation should be viewed as complementary to that audial and textual one. Otherwise, a cross-cultural conversation may lead to the development of misunderstandings that may afterward spawn conflicts. However, the importance of pictograph as the means of supporting the textual elements with visual information as the means of eliciting an emotion or allowing the audience to embrace a specific idea on the level of their unique culture cannot be overstated. Therefore, to increase the utility of pictography as the source of information, it is necessary to balance it with textual and audial data, thus, enhancing its potential.
Hiranchiracheep, S., Yamazaki, A. K., & Naowanondha, A. (2018). A development and comprehension of pictograms for educational purposes. Ratchaphruek Journal, 16(3), 10-18.
Veytia-Bucheli, M. G., Gómez-Galán, J., & Vergara, D. (2020). Presence of new forms of intercultural communication in Higher Education: Emojis and social interactions through WhatsApp among graduate students. Education Sciences, 10(11), 295.
Wołk, K., Wołk, A., Marasek, K., & Glinkowski, W. (2017). Pictogram-based mobile first medical aid communicator. Procedia Computer Science, 121, 3-10.