Whether you are employing a website developer to build you a website or having a go at doing it yourself, the importance of good website images cannot be dismissed.
Let’s face it, the first thing your eyes are drawn to when you enter a website, are the images. Usually, the main banner at the top page, but as you scroll down the page, website images not only look good, but they break up all that text.
A picture is worth a thousand words
A great image really can tell a story. It provides your client or customer with an instant burst of information, explaining what it is you do and the quality of your work. Website images depicting your products or you services let the website visitor know right away, that they are in the right place.
Oh and don’t think it is only your visitors taking notice. Google and other search engines are now smart enough to be able to look at an online image and know exactly what it is. Crazy hu!
If Google sees an image and it relates to the products or sales you offer, up goes your Google Rankings.
So to say that the images on your website are important, is an understatement. They are critical!
As a developer, the number 1 stumbling block our clients face, is underestimating the importance of website images. Which is why we are writing this blog.
How to source great website images
Sourcing good website images is not always easy. Part of the challenge is to know what a great image looks like.
As mentioned, any image on your website needs to tell a story. It needs to be high quality and present a clear message. Sadly, many of the images that web developers are presented with, fail on both counts.
IMPORTANT! Whether using a web developer or building your own website, please think long and hard about using your Phone Images.
[Skip the next two paragraphs if you don’t want to hear the brutal truth]
Despite our strong advice, when we start a website build, many clients will bombard us with dozens of photos taken on their mobile phone. Some even ask that we use these as banner images, which can be really frustrating when the image is taken in portrait mode.
OK, so modern mobile phones can take awesome images. We get that! But like any camera, the photo is only as good as the photographer. So unless you are a professional photographer, it is most likely that your website images will look amateur at best and utterly rubbish at worst.
Always think clarity and quality when providing images.
If you do not have images and are at peace with your limited ability to take photos, get help or buy Stock Images. We will come to this later in the article.
DIY Website Photos
OK, so you think you are a Pro Photographer right! Well then you will already know this;
Firstly, when taking a photo you need to know where the image is going to be used. If it is for a Banner Image which stretches from left to right of your website, it must be in Landscape format (Turn the phone sideways). Additionally the image will be ‘big’ on the website, so it must be of a very high resolution and size setting. While the actual size we end up using may vary, we insist that banner images be provided to us at no less than 1920 pixels in width and 1080 pixels high. We may cut this to suit the style of your website, but we need a large, clean image to work from. If the image is much less than about 2.5mb in size, chances are it will be grainy and pixelated. No good! Bigger the better!
Secondly is the lighting. Shadows can look awesome if you know what you are doing, but if you don’t they will ruin the shot. Equally, sunlight can look great, but will kill the photo if the sun is in front of you. That is, unless you know what you are doing of course. Shadows and low light may over complicate the image and take a way from what you are showing.
Thirdly is the content of the image. Its all well and good taking a photo of the gate you erected or the car that you polished, but the Safeway truck parked beside it, might not be appropriate. Tools and work paraphernalia are often ugly and only tell the customer that you are messy and don’t tidy up after yourself. Ensure the images shows the product or service positively and cleanly. You will also need to think about the Colours in the image. For a banner image and possibly other larger images on a web page, its great to include around 20% of your Website Logo or Brand colours. This helps create a theme throughout the websites that falls in line with your branding.
Fourthly, you need a steady hand or even better a Tripod / stand. Even mobile phone images are vastly improved when not shaking around.
And last but not least
Lastly, when taking product images remember the product is the star. Plain White, black or transparent backgrounds always win, but if you insist on a background, keep it consistent. You can buy Product Photo Booths, but the cheap ones are not very good and they must include lighting. Depending on the website, product images are usually best presented square. Again, whether square, portrait, landscape or round for that matter, they all have to be consistent. Small 200 pixel images won’t do either, especial where products are complex and require high resolution shots.
We can’t emphasis enough though, if you cannot achieve all the above, DON’T DO IT!
Get a Photographer
Most good website developers have a photographer or two they work with. Not only do they have all the right kit, but they know how to capture the right shot. Of course there are additional costs involved with hiring a photographer, but you should want to present your product or service nicely. If you had a shop, would you present your products on a dirty old camp table or on nice clean shelves? Your website is no different.
We mentioned this earlier in the piece and stock images are a popular solution to the website photo problem. While Stock Images are not cheap, they may work out cheaper than a photographer. Stock images for website design are always high quality and often offer variations which will suit your website design. There are some Free Stock Image websites which allow you to use images as long as you credit the photographer. Website images free can look a bit odd, so is not always the best solution.
Otherwise here are a few popular paid Stock Image Websites;
In most cases your website developer will offer to supply images at an extra cost. If you wish, they can choose these for you and present watermarked versions for your perusal. Alternatively you can provide the images.
Partner or supplier photos
Where you are selling third party products and images, your supplier will usually have their own images. With their permission you are able to use these on your website. This is a popular route, especial for product images. Again though, try to be consistent and make sure the images you provide the developer are high resolution and appropriately sized.
Again, we did touch upon this earlier, but it’s worth going into a bit more detail about this. You wouldn’t display your products in store under dirty or stained glass, so you certainly do not want to present them on your website like that either. When you decide upon a format for your product images, it is important to stick to it. If you chose to display website images in a square box on the website, all product images should be square. Failure to stick to this will result in your shop pages being out of shape and messy. The image should be distraction free, which is why white or transparent backgrounds are preferable. Food items may look good on a marble bench or chopping board, but must look clean.
Remember, when a customer is viewing your products, they will see the thumbnail view first (a smaller image) and when they click into the product, the image will be enlarged. The bare minimum size we would recommend is 600px wide, though you should really aim to provide the developer with images over 1200px wide.
A final thought
While your website developer can perform miracles, without great images, your website could be pretty dull and boring. In fact, it would not be unreasonable to attribute a vast proportion of a websites success, to the choice and placement of images. Website images tell stories and several images really can speak volumes about your business. Images make it easy on the eyes to identify areas of a webpage and break up large blocks of text.
While your developer will help you with whatever you decide, listen to their advice. Cutting corners with your website images completely negates the reason you are building a website in the first place. In fact most developers will refuse to proceed with the first or second stage of your website build, without quality images chosen or delivered on time. One of the biggest hold ups in a website build are unusable images being provided or none at all.
If there is one piece of advice you should hear, it is to get your images in order, before proceeding with any website build.