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HOW TO : Choose the best images for your website?

Think about the last small business website that you visited. What grabbed your attention? What made the website stand out, or maybe it did not stand out and was bland and boring. Either way I would bet that your answer depends a lot on the images that were used on that particular site.

Picking the best possible images to feature on your website is key if you want to make a lasting impression on your potential customers. But how do you go about this? What if you are not a great photographer? What should you be looking out for when choosing your websites images? Don’t worry I will answer these questions and more by discussing the 9 most important factors to consider when picking your images right now…

1) So the first thing you should know is that Quality counts! This is so important, never ever display low resolution or grainy photos on your website. Now some of you might be reading this and thinking “But how do I ensure my website loads quickly if I am using such High Resolution images?” Well the answer is simple, High Res does not mean large file size, well it does in a way, but it is not necessary. Your high res image has tons of unnecessary data attached to it and if you remove this data you can easily convert a 3Mb image own to 500Kb.

2) Try to use original Images. If you are a great photographer then shoot your own images and use those on your website, if you are not a great photographer but you have a large enough budget to hire a professional then do that. This will ensure that your website does not contain images that have been used on a million other sites. If you do not have a large budget, and you cannot shoot your own images then by all means use stock images, but do a reverse image search to check what other sites are using the same image(s).

3) Invoke an emotional reaction with your customer. What emotions do you want your customer to feel when they visit your website? Think about this for a second, it is often not an easy question to answer. When you have your answer ensure that the images you choose emphasize this emotion.

4) Make your target audience feel at home. To do this you need to choose images that feature people who resemble your target audience. If you are taking your own photos this can be as easy as photographing your clients as they interact with your business. If you are relying on stock images this might be a little more difficult, but not impossible.

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5) Feature photos of your team on your site. People love to feel connected to a company or brand and creating this connection can start with featuring your team on your website. Often candid images of your team going about their daily duties will be the best to create that connection, however this will be affected by your companies culture and

6) Ensure that each and every image reinforces your brand. For example if you are running a Spa that offers the most relaxing treatments in South Africa it would be a great idea to ensure that all images reinforce the theme of relaxation and tranquillity. It is also to try and match the dominant colours of the image with the colours of the company and the website theme.

7) Be consistent with your images. Once you have selected a type of image that you will use on your site ensure that all the images match that type. For example if you have decided that Black and White images best represent your brand do not use colour images for your “meet the team” section.

8) Don’t be afraid to crop images. This is especially true when using stock images, you can create a much greater impact by cropping the image to display the most relevant details of the image. When cropping always ensure that you crop in the largest format possible to keep the image quality as high as possible.

9) Don’t over do it! I know it can be tempting to add 10 of your best images to a page, especially when you have 10 fantastic pictures and can not choose between them, but don’t do it. The entire experience becomes confusing and disorienting to visitors of the page. A much better option would be to add 2-3 images to the page and then change these images periodically. This way to get to use all your great images over time and you have the added benefit of keeping your website fresh.

At the end of the day the images to choose have the potential to make or break your website. Don’t leave your image selection to the last minute, choose your images in the initial planning stages. Or at the very least define the type of image you will use in clear terms and source these images as the build process unfolds.

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