Naturally, it’s essential that you look smart and professional because you need to leave a lasting impression on potential customers so they remember your brand and associate it with high-quality products or services.
Your appearance is, therefore, paramount to your success.
So would you prepare yourself by going to a clothing retailer and choosing an outfit that’s smart, memorable and professional? Or would you buy some material and quickly run up an outfit, despite having no tailoring experience at all?
Unless you were exceptionally skilled at making clothes you would, naturally, turn to a professional to get the job done right. So when it comes to web design, why do so many companies make the mistake of choosing low-quality, self-taken or generic stock images as their first impression to their potential online customers?
Imagery & the Human Psyche
We humans are visual creatures. We’re attracted to striking, beautiful imagery and we surround ourselves with photographs – pictures on the walls, in our purses or wallets, on our smartphones, calendars, etc. If you offer somebody a choice of two magazines, one with photographs and the other without, chances are they will reach for the one with pictures first.
There’s a good reason for this. Our minds process images in a very different way to language. Images transcend words. First impressions are formed in seconds as our brains interpret imagery instantly, while they take longer to process language.
This makes perfect sense in the light of our development, as seeing always comes before words – after all, a baby will look around and recognise things before it can speak.
So it stands to reason that the images you choose for your website form an integral part of its success.
The Importance of Photography in Web Design
One of the most difficult jobs for a web designer is being asked to create a compelling website that will attract visitors and keep them on the page, only to be presented with some distinctly underwhelming images to work with.
However, as consumers we’re constantly exposed to professional photography, so we can instantly tell the difference between a good image and a poor one. And that can be ‘make or break’ time when a visitor rocks up to your website. Because if your website doesn’t look good, chances are your visitors won’t even hang around to read what you have to say.
However, greet them with a clear, crisp, correctly processed image and you will grab their attention in a flash. Good imagery will enhance the look and feel of your website and improve your credibility. It will highlight your professionalism and set the tone, mood and atmosphere of your entire website.
But it’s not enough for the photography on your site to look good, it has to be relevant too. Images are an essential part of communication. Your pictures should convey a message to your potential customers. They need to tell the story of your brand, products and services. And if you populate your website with high-quality, eye-catching photography, it becomes an essential element of your branding and your visitors will associate quality with your brand, products and services.
In addition to being a vital cog in your mission to attract visitors and keep them on your site, good photography offers another bonus – pictures sell.
Ever since photography has been around, it’s been a key component in advertising. Photographs capture an emotion and lead people on the path to conversion. Consumers want to see something they can relate to, and a photograph fills that role perfectly. If it’s top quality and well integrated with the design of the site, consumers can picture how your products and services fit their specific need.
There’s also the issue of trust. Trust can be a tricky thing to capture online, but including real photos of the products and services you sell will help to put consumers’ minds at ease about their purchase. It’s also the reason you should avoid using stock photographs on your website. Sometimes they have their uses, but how can a generic image, captured by somebody with no knowledge of your business, products or services, accurately capture who you are and what you do? People prefer to buy from real people, not somebody hiding behind a mask.
Because we’re constantly surrounded by professional imagery, it’s easy to undervalue it. Add to this the profusion of different apps on our smartphones and it’s little wonder we question why need to spend money on professional photos when we have all the tools to hand?
What you need to remember is that those images littering your magazines and websites have been taken by photographers at the top of their game. Like web design, photography requires skill, training and dedication. Photographers have an elaborate set-up of lighting at their disposal, and are experienced photo editors.
Those photographs are then incorporated into the website by designers who have the knowledge and expertise to integrate them with the rest of the site. They know how to use the images to break up the monotony of text on a page and subtly direct the visitor’s eye to the message you’re trying to convey.
The fact that quality images look so natural is testament to the abilities of the photographers and web designers. Not because it’s easy. So if you want the images on your website to elicit ‘oohs and ahhs’ from your visitors, you would be wise to leave it to the pros.
A good web designer will always be prepared to offer advice on finding the right images for your website, or helping you to arrange for some bespoke images to help set the tone and convey the right message to your visitors.
Good images are as much of an investment as good design. The right images will transform your website from good to great, and will say more about your values and proposition than any amount of words. But get it wrong and it will have a detrimental effect on the success of your entire venture.
Do you agree that images are an integral part of the success of a website? What other benefits have you found for choosing high-quality, relevant imagery on your website? Tell us below.