Images on your website are often the first items that a visitor will notice, and so often the first thing that they will judge you on. Images are critically important in giving your visitors the right first impression. Alongside appropriate, well worded copy they can be the deciding factor that will convince the visitor to carry on reading and click further into your website, or if not done well… hit the dreaded back button.
So, a few questions… How do you find the right image for your website? What do you look for that makes an image good? How do you present images so that they look great in the frame of a website?
Let’s look at these one by one.
How do you find the right image for your website?
In answering this question, another question should be asked first – what do you want the image to *do* for your website – what makes an image the ‘right’ image?
Images can be used in a variety of ways – for example you may want an image to be atmospheric, that supports the mood of a blog post or gives a flavour of what you are writing about. A very different image may be one that shows off a particular product or service, and so the intention for that image is to help sell. Another example may be an image that intends to convince the user to take action – like fill in a form, or click through to a specific part of your website.
Once ‘what the right image’ is defined you are in a position to know where to look, and what to look for.
In the case of an atmospheric image that supports a blog post, it is likely that the subject matter would be clear (the title of the blog post). For images that show products or services it is important for them to be as detailed as possible, and to have several images that show variations, details etc. In lieu of the user being able to physically pick up a product or see a service in action, it is often the imagery that allows the user to gain confidence in exactly what they will be parting with their money for, so they need to be good.
Always the best imagery is original imagery, so if at all you can take it yourself or better yet have a professional photographer do the serious work then that is ideal, however for alot of small businesses that simply isn’t a viable option. As an alternative there are plenty of stock image websites, some free, some paid for, where you can find a huge range of images available to download and use.
What do you look for that makes an image *good*?
The first thing I look for when taking or finding an image is that it meets the required specification – i.e. that it is big enough and of good enough quality for it’s intended purpose. It is all well and good finding an image that has the exact right content, but if it is only very small and it needs to fill a large space on your website, then it is not going to be the right image. Knowing what space the image is going to fill also gives you the understanding of the proportions you are looking for – portrait, square, landscape, panoramic are examples that may need to be considered.
Once the specification has been decided it is a matter of locating the image with the right content, which is a judgement call made with all imagery that you must decide on. It is much easier choosing imagery to represent a product as that is a very defined and specific item. Locating an image that has mood or style to represent a blog post for example is much more subjective.
Colour also plays a part in my choice of imagery – what are the colours like, do they fit with the rest of the website, are they representative of the post, product or service? Of course it is also possible to manipulate an image using one of the many graphical or photo editing tools available (I use Adobe Photoshop) to make the colours fit into the style or theme of the website.
How do you present images so that they look great in the frame of a website?
Many websites have themes that will resize the image so that it is automatically fits into the space available on a web page. This is almost certainly the case for product imagery, and also sometimes the case for featured images on blog posts. If you are adding an image to the floe of text in a blog post or information page then how and where to place the images you have chosen needs a bit of consideration. What size the image should be, whether it is wrapped by text or not, how it will be aligned on the page, whether to have a caption or not are some considerations to make, and how that image is then shown on different devices (laptop, tablet, smartphone etc) needs further thought.
In summary – choosing the right image for your website is not a simple process, in fact taking all of the above into consideration it can take quite a bit of time to do well. That said, it is worth making the effort and taking the time to do it well – as having great imagery on your website makes the right first impression to your users.