Photography allows small businesses to promote events, share emotions and feelings, sell products and services and tell a very strong story without using words. Photographs are more than just ornamental elements of your website design, if used correctly they help communicate your ideas in a clear and concise way that delivers a better user experience.
Be Choosey when Choosing Stock Images
If you can afford it, hiring a professional photographer to photograph your products or take your profile pictures is always the best option. But, not every small business can afford to hire a professional photographer. Have no fear, because there are some really great options for stock photography and with a little work choosing the right image, you can find a compelling image that will tell your businesses story and convey the right emotion to increase readership and turnovers. We’ve blogged about how to choose stock images and where to find quality free stock photos on several occasions.
Think About Placement
Photos have appropriate places on your website and visual hierarchy can create a compelling argument that will bring focus to your website, product and services and tell the story for your business. Achieving this hierarchy can be done in many ways including; making the main image bigger, giving the photo some surrounding negative space, choosing a bold photo, using fewer images, etc. Getting the right visual placement is easy, it just takes a little time and an open mind.
People are drawn to images and their eyes will nearly always go to an image before it reads the content. Drawing the user in with strong personal and emotional imagery is an excellent way to get the viewer to read your story. If possible, add photos that evoke an emotional response and add value to your content and product.
“A good photograph is one that communicates a fact, touches the heart and leaves the viewer a changed person for having seen it. It is, in a word, effective.”
— Irving Penn
Complement the Content
This should be a no-brainer, but your images should always compliment your content. Create a clear relationship with your photos and content so you can convey an appropriate message. Photos that are forthright and credible add many layers of value to your website. The photos on your website should reinforce the content on your website and drive click throughs to other pages on your site. Use photography to arouse the imagination and make the reader want more.
Contrast with the Photo
If your image is going to have text overlaying on top of it, then make sure it contrasts with the photograph so it is easily readable. A dark photo should have light or white copy and a lighter photo should have dark copy on top of it. Drop shadows are also an option for photos of all shades. Adding a color overlay is also a great way to achieve contrast.
Maintain consistency with style and format throughout your site. All of the images on your site, regardless of the page should share comparative aesthetic value and design.
Avoid Extraneous and Non Realistic Images
Avoid using any images that don’t have anything to do with what your small business does. You may have the cutest kid or puppy on the planet, but they aren’t going to drive click throughs if they have nothing to do with your business. Make sure that the photos are relatable to your users and target audience. Good product and people images sell and are trustworthy. Creating trust generates repeat business and is great marketing.
“I don’t trust words. I trust pictures.”
— Gilles Peress
High Resolution and Quality Counts
High pixel monitors and devices demand high resolution photos and images and create a better experience for the user. Photos that are pixelated look dated and only be a turn off for most users. Modern, quality images in the appropriate resolution should be a priority.
Less is More
A really great photo conveys information and grabs the reader’s attention. It focuses on the product or service. Too many images can become confusing and send too many messages. Resist the urge to visually overkill your homepage design with too many images.
Keeping all of these points in mind when choosing photography for your website will help improve user experience. Photos should help communicate your message and create a positive experience for your users. They should be optimized correctly for your products or campaign and create emotional and human connections to complement your story. If you have more questions about choosing images for your website, feel free to contact us for more information.
Susan lives in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area with her husband and children. She is an avid distance runner, environmentalist, part-time beekeeper, chicken farmer and amateur photographer.