What do my website images tell my potential customers?
How do I make sure I’m using the right types of images?
Think about the last time you met someone new. Their clothes, hairstyle, and way they held themselves all gave you an impression of them in a split second.
Eventually, you may have spent more time with them and learned what they’re really like. But that’s a luxury most businesses don’t have. Visitors to a company’s website might take one look, not like what they see, and leave right away.
So, your business website needs to “dress to impress” because visitors can quickly absorb what your company stands for through the imagery you use.
That’s because a large amount of human learning is visual.
Melodie, owner of gift basket company Send Them Chicago, knows just how important website photos can be.
To make sure you’re using hardworking website visuals like Melodie, ask yourself: Are your images clear? Are they your own images? Are they the right size? Are they in the right format?
We’ll take you through each of these.
First, make sure your website features high quality, crystal clear images.
When visitors click on your photos, those visuals could expand to large versions that are sharp and in focus. If you use a model to showcase your products, put him or her against a contrasting background so your products stand out.
Certain businesses, like interior decorators or jewelry designers, might benefit by showing a portfolio of work that includes product close-ups. In those cases, it’s probably worth investing in a professional photographer.
Even if your business is service-based, you should still use high quality images on your website to stand out from competitors. Make sure to choose photos with colors that complement your site’s overall design and brand style.
A good option for service-based businesses is to use photos of real people.
They could be your employees, happy customers giving testimonials, or you and your business partners smiling for the camera on your site’s “About Us” page.
Another smart strategy around website visuals is to use your own images.
Featuring photos that were created specifically for your business helps create an air of authenticity for your website. But, don’t mistake “authentic” for “anything goes.” Your photos still need to be high quality and look professional.
If you want to feature images that another person has taken of your business that you’ve found online, make sure you have permission to use them first. Legally, they’re considered the intellectual property of their photographers.
What if you don’t have your own images? You might consider purchasing stock images from companies like Getty or Corbis. However, you need to be careful to choose images that don’t seem too stylized, fake, or out of place on your site.
Check the terms and conditions of images you don’t own. Some images require paid license fees and royalties, but some (like those in the public domain) are free to use. However, even if you’re using “free” images, you should always read the fine print. When in doubt, ask.
Along with being high quality and authentic, your images need to be the right size.
While there’s no hard and fast rule, you should try to keep image files small (around 100 kilobytes or less). Also, it’s a good idea to feature no more than 5 large images per page so your website won’t be plagued by slow load time.
Also, you can make a large image smaller, but you can’t do the opposite. If you take a small image and try to stretch it out to fill a larger space, it will probably look blurry and distorted, and be as pixilated as a 1980’s video game.
The last (but not least) element you should pay attention to is whether or not your images are in the right format.
Your images should be JPGs, GIFs, or PNGs. If they’re not, convert them by exporting and re-saving them on your computer or by using a online image converter tool like ConvertMyImage.com.
Make sure your image quality is consistent, too. For example, try using similar styles and backgrounds in employee bio page photos.
Also, use alt text (alternative text). It’s a short description of an image that you add to your website’s HTML. If your images won’t load when someone visits your site, the alt text appears and gives the information your images would normally provide.
So, when you’re writing your alt text, consider what’s useful to customers who can’t see the images. Sometimes, that’s not just a literal description of the image content.
For instance, Melodie from Send Them Chicago might use the alt text “Windy City Welcome Basket with Chicago-style cookies, popcorn, and chocolate” instead of just “Basket Option 1 with cookies, popcorn, and chocolate.”
DO THIS NOW
Now that you know tips for creating and hosting high quality website images, let’s see if you’re ready to produce your own images or if you should consider hiring a professional photographer.