When you meet someone, what’s the first thing you remember?
Unless they have a particularly noteworthy voice (Fran Drescher), an unusual name (Umbrella McGillicuddy), or a strange odor (enchiladas), chances are when you meet someone for the first time, you remember something VISUAL.
Visuals are a big component of what makes up a first impression. So you might want to ponder this:
What Visual First Impression Does Your Website Make?
Unlike that drunk uncle at every family holiday gathering, your website does not have the luxury of making an impression by noisily kicking over a chair while running naked through the kitchen. Thus, it relies strongly on visuals to make that first impression.
Yes, your website must stand on the power of its content. But if the images are shoddy, who’s gonna bother with the content? Are you going to buy a Tesla from a guy in a polyester leisure suit?
Maybe you would. Especially if you have a fondness for leisure suits. Or polyester. But you get the point. The images you use on your website are going to be a reflection of your company, service, brand and product. They’re going to send out a message.
So if you want that message to say, “I’m awesome,” rather than “I am so NOT awesome,” consider the following when picking out your images.
1. Be Sure They Can Relate
This basically means that your images should be relevant. But not to the point of hackneyed over-kill.
We’re going to assume that if you’re at the point where you’re selling a product or service on your website, you’ve done the footwork to determine your audience. So now you want to be sure your images relate to them.
For example, if you’re selling hiking boots, you’re targeting the hearty woodsy types. Thus, you’re not going to have a photo of happy office dwellers high-fiving after winning that big account.
But what might be less obvious is the need to avoid too manyclichés - images of nothing but rugged trails, good looking people with big sweaters, mossy logs, log cabins, logs on fire - and to focus on other details in your images that appeal to the different subgroups of your audience. What’s appealing to a man in terms of hiking boots is going to be different for a woman or a child. Even if it’s subtle.
So don’t ignore them.
2. Make Your Images Energetic
Not cheerleader energetic. That’s annoying. But generally speaking, you’ll want to choose active images over passive ones. Unless you’re selling sleep aids. Or harps.
So how do you know if an image is energetic?
It’s going to have a vibrant and vital color scheme, sharp images and some sizzle. A little crackling. It’s going to inspire your visitor to take action rather than veg on the couch and contemplate their navels.
And if you’re posting multiple images such as albums, slide shows or galleries, avoid overpopulating with every possible image. Stick with the active images.
3. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Uniqueness
Uniqueness may not have been something you wanted to be branded with in high school. This is not the case with your website images.
By unique, we don’t mean campy high school movie weird and quirky. Napoleon Dynamite is probably not the best candidate to sell your goods.
We’re talking images that aren’t likely to show up on a competitor’s website. Or even a non-competitor’s website. Ideally, it’s only on YOUR website.
Website designers are all too familiar with the S-word. Stock photo.
And if stock photos are all that your budget allows, it’s not going to ruin you. But when conducting a search, dig deeper into the results rather than settling on an image on the first few pages. They’re much less likely to be used on other sites that way.
Even better, use your smartphone to grab some of your own images. Or if you have the funds, employ the services of a professional photographer.
4. They Need to Be A Rep for Your Brand
And one big consideration is color.
Not only does color promote brand recognition, but color also has deep psychological connections. For example, red can illicit a sense of power and excitement (McDonald’s), while blue denotes determination, ambition, and goals (IBM).
If you’ve got a highly recognizable logo and color palette, stick with the dominant colors in your brand for your website images. Every successful advertising firm knows the importance of consistency. Consistency builds trust. And trust sells.
But your brand goes beyond your color palette and logo. It’s rather like a person. So just what kind of person is your brand?
Bold? Aggressive? Cheerful? Funny? Happy? Sleepy? Sneezy? Doc?
Think of your website as a person you want to introduce to the world. What images will best capture that person?
5. And Yes, Size Does Matter
The most important thing to remember is that you can always decrease the size of large image and retain its quality. But try increasing the size of a smaller image and you won’t have the same luck. Eventually you’ll have a pixelated cryptic mess.
Still, as we all know, bigger isn’t always better. Using too large an image can negatively impact your website’s performance by slowing it down. So you’ll have to find the balance.
Determining size also matters because you’ll need to find files that will work within those specifications. They’ll also need to work effectively across various devices and screen sizes. So think about it.
What Are Your Website Images Saying?
You don’t want them talking smack about you. That isn’t going to do wonders for your reputation. Or your revenue.
But if you’re not sure what they’re saying, you can always seek help from experts in the field who can guide you in the right direction and get your website images doing what they need to be doing…
Talking you up.