Putting Website Images to Work for You

You know what they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” And old adages like these stick around because they’re true—even if, with website pages, we’re talking about more like 500 words. Point being: The photos you choose for your website matter. According to website and app development company SAG IPL, over one-third of visitors (38%) will leave your site if the content and layout aren’t deemed attractive, 90% of users leaving in 3 seconds due to poor design.

Fortunately for all of us, there’s no shortage of stock photography to choose from when promoting our particular brand for our particular audience; but unfortunately, the options are so plentiful, it can quickly become overwhelming and time-consuming to sort through thousands of potential images just to zero in on the “right” one.

Here’s a starter checklist to cut down on time invested and amp up positive outcomes:

Quality Counts: Grainy is not good. Slow-loading is the online kiss of death. And smushing or stretching an image to fit an allotted space is a big no-no. You want to select images that are of high enough resolution to reproduce beautifully and clearly across all responsive platform screens, but not so large or unruly as to interfere with the user experience. A website designer can help you zero in on the optimal pixel size per context and test loading time.

Look Outward, Not Inward: You are not your customer. So what appeals to you isn’t as important as what will appeal to them, in line with your messaging and content. Orange may be your favorite color, but if it clashes with your predominantly blue-and-green website palette, keep searching until content and color click. (Same goes for puppies or cupcakes or landscapes—ask yourself if you’re drawn to an image based on your own personal preferences, or if it actually works strategically to speak to your client base.)

Feelings Are Fine: By this, we mean that you don’t need to shy away from emotions. Images that evoke palpable feelings—like joy, exhilaration, despair, frustration, nervousness, confusion, humor—go right to the heart of the person, and thus to the heart of the matter. Impact is effective; bland is boring.

Stock, But Not Too Stock:  Your business is one-of-a-kind, and so your images should look fresh and original too. Yes, stock photography sites offer incredible convenience and affordability to small businesses that don’t have the budget for personalized photo shoots, but the last thing you want is for your shot of an empty salon chair to be the same or similar shot used by other industry websites. Dig deeper than the initial search results, steer away from the stale and predictable toward the unfamiliar, seek out compositions that add that a new spin or novel flair. Which leads us to:

Customization Is King:  Photo-editing software exists for a reason. A very good reason. Because sometimes you find an image that’s almost perfect … but not quite. Go ahead and crop, remove a background, recolor, resize, reshape, add a fade, or add your own copy atop. Think of the image as a starting point, not necessarily the end product.

Be Intentional:  Most important of all, make sure your photo actually aligns with the content it’s accompanying. A stunning image is useless if it doesn’t clearly signal what the text is about. So it can’t just be any image, it has to be one that directly and logically links to information the customer has come to your site to find. Show ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em or sell ’em, and they’ll read on.

There’s lots more to know about photo optimization. Let RWS Consulting help you learn by contacting us today for a free consultation: 202-409-8113 or info@rws-cc.com