As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The same is true when it comes to images on websites. First time visitors quickly form impressions of your site to determine whether they want to stay on or leave it, which is why having images that accurately represent your brand, products, and services is so important.
So how can you make sure your website imagery is up to par? I talked to Mike Unser (MU) and Jerad Barbot (JB), two of our web designers, to get some insight. Read on to see out what they had to say.
Do images have an impact on engagement?
JB: Absolutely. If I go to a website that has a lot of photos that are clearly stock photos, it doesn’t feel genuine to me. If you have pictures of your actual products or business space, it gives visitors a real sense of your company.
MU: I agree. Take a look at Beans Coffee Bar’s website. They have pictures of their space and their food. It’s like I’m able to experience the place for myself without even having to go there.
What should you avoid when it comes to images?
MU: I always try to avoid pictures that feel too staged or inauthentic, like people standing around a conference table smiling. They come across superficial and don’t appeal to most people.
JB: I’d say to avoid large group pictures of staff members. What if one of them leaves, but a group picture is featured on your homepage or another web page? Even if they left on good terms, you’re going to be constantly making changes. You have to be diligent about changing the images out.
What style of images should I use?
MU: This really depends on your company's brand. A lot of photography depends on your brand identity and what you're trying to convey. For instance, if you’re selling sportswear, you’re going to want images that are more edgy. But if you’re a massage therapist, you’ll want your images to be softer and more relaxing.
JB: I agree. I also think that using color is best. Black and white is nice when you're trying to establish that you've been around for a long time, so you don’t have to completely rule those out – but overall color images are more appealing.
Are there standard sizes for images?
MU: That depends on your website template. When we create websites at Onsharp, I always like to get the biggest size of photos as possible. We need a minimum width of 1920 pixels.
What’s the best file type to use?
MU: For photo-realistic images or images with a lot of gradients, JPG usually works best. For any kind of images with flat designs, like illustrations or logos, PNGs should be used. It wouldn’t be a good idea to use PNGs for photographs because the file size is too large.
What's better: Big images or small images? Does it make a difference?
JB: What's important is keeping the best quality photo as small as you can. Keep in mind that most people access websites via their phone, and most mobile devices can’t fit huge images on them.
MU: I try to keep large images (like banners) under 100K, but closer to 50K if possible. If your download speed is 1MB at its slowest, you want to make sure your images load within a second. Most people have good connections in our area, but mobile phones may load a little slower.
Would you rather see websites with custom images or stock photos?
JB: I’d encourage you to take a shot at taking your own pictures. Cameras have come a long way these days, and even if you don’t have a professional camera, there are plenty of local photographers, YouTube tutorials and more out there that can help you out. Who knows, you might even have someone on your team who knows something about photography.
MU: I agree. And with the right lighting, even your iPhone can work. What you need to avoid is taking photos with flash. Make sure you have good lighting.
I also like to encourage people not to go to Google and find stuff to use. There can be legal consequences with that as not all images are free to use. A lot of people don’t know that you can't just take something and use it just because it's from Google.
JB: Exactly. And that’s why taking your own photos can be the best option. It alleviates any question about whether or not the photos are rightfully yours. The only thing you need to remember is that if you're taking pictures with customers in them – like for a restaurant business – you need to have signed release forms.
How many images should I have on my website? Do I even need them?
JB: Yes, you need images on your website. It's hard to make a connection with a business without them. As a brand, you want to create a familiarity with your company through your images. Even if it's an image of one of your plumbing trucks, people will be able to recognize it when they’re out and about because they’ve seen it on your website. If you're going to have a website, think content and photos to accompany the content.
MU: You should always think of your website imagery as something that connects with your content. I think that every page should have at least one photo to make it interesting. Product images are good. For example, if you have a software or another solution, screen shots work great to showcase what you sell and how your product works. And if you're going to showcase your staff, it's worth the investment to hire a photographer or try to get them to be uniform.
If you’ve been thinking about creating your own website or adding some great images to your existing website, we can help! Contact us for more details.