JOURNAL

JOURNAL

The Dos and Don'ts of Choosing Website Images

Written by Mark Williams

 
 MMW Website Photo Selection
 

Images can make a huge difference to your website. They can engage visitors, quickly convey meaning and evoke the values upon which your business stands. However, the reverse can be true if you make bad choices. So, what’s the key to success when choosing images for your small-business website?

1 Never compromise on quality…

Blurry, badly cropped, grainy or low-resolution images should never be used on a professional website. It will look as if quality isn’t important to your business, which won’t make people want to buy from you. And great images for your website needn’t be expensive. Digital cameras and phones can often be used to take product shots, while royalty-free images can be bought online cheaply from stock photo libraries (some sites even offer free images). Never use an image unless you have the rights to do so.

2 Show some originality…

Some shots literally scream “STOCK IMAGE”, because they’re visual clichés used by many other businesses on their websites. That’s not to say you can’t find excellent stock library images or find a more original approach to conveying meaning and illustrating your website. Picking abstract images can work very well, by adding intrigue to a website. What’s the point in being obvious or picking images that make your website look like most others? Show people that you’re special.

3 Convey energy and vitality…

Don’t make boring or predictable image choices – use engaging images that capture people’s attention. Images should also show that yours is a business of the moment, not of the past, one that’s full of life, energy and activity. To keep things fresh, change some of your website imagery from time to time.

4 Include images of people…

Well-chosen images of people can add human warmth and personality to a website, but avoid cheesy, clichéd shots. Using photographs of people who resemble authentic satisfied target customers is a tried and tested tactic. Caution is advised when it comes to using “humorous” images, because not everyone might get the joke and it can look like you don’t take business seriously enough. That said, when done well, a genuinely humorous website image can be a powerful thing.

5 Evoke your brand and its values…

Your brand should be applied consistently throughout your business – and that includes your website. Your website images should fit your brand identity and values, not be at adds with them. Main images should also achieve some emotional response and be consistent with others. Photographic styles should complement rather than clash with each other.

6 Include photos of you and your team…

Come on, don’t be shy, but avoid posed, formal shots in formal business clothing and a formal business setting (it’s #dull). Show website visitors that you and your people are friendly human beings – remember – “people buy people first, product second”. Convey warmth and personality in your mug shots (not “wacky” and avoid cheesy grins). If you have budget, hiring a professional photographer can really pay off.

7 Don’t overdo it…

Less is very often more when it comes to website imagery, with a few really great images per page likely to have greater impact than if you bombard visitors with a confusing mass of photographs. Each page of your website should strike the right balance between words and images. Don’t be afraid to use large images, because this can have a lot of impact. Impact is good.


 Mark Williams

Mark Williams is a freelance editorial consultant, writer and SME content specialist with over 25 years' experience.  He contributes to The Guardian Small Business Network and planned and wrote the Start Up Donut website.  As well as award-winning magazines and websites, his writing has featured in national newspapers and Sunday supplements. 

You can find out more about Mark's work on his website: www.markiwilliams.com