Do you know when you go to the movies and see the advertisements for Dolby Digital sound? You are confronted with breathtaking images (a waterfall, droplets, the sea, birds, trees, images from the space age, a lot of variety), interesting sounds (orchestral music, noises to the images, crescendos and decrescendos, crashes, etc.) and that Brand logo (several times in case you forgot). It’s similar to their HD sound test here. The point is, Dolby Digital is a sound Company, but would the sound test be the same – or would it be perceived the same – if it was just a black screen with noise from those surround sound cinema speakers? Probably not.
Images are everywhere and an integral part of our world. From advertising to urban planning to nature and what we perceive to be beautiful, creepy, macabre and everything in between, the imagery plays a major role. Imagery also creates brand awareness. For example, if you’re a florist and want to showcase your flower arrangements, you won’t be taking your photos with a 90s camera phone. You select your most beautiful bouquets, light them perfectly, add the best background to showcase them, and hire a professional photographer to take stunning, high-resolution images to upload to your website. If someone came to your website and the pictures were grainy, the flower arrangements hideous, and the photos were taken with a messy kitchen in the background, do you think you would sell a lot of flowers?
Here’s why it’s important to have compelling images and best practices.
People will judge your website based on your pictures
In 1/10 of a second, people will be judging your website. This snapshot will determine if they think your site will be helpful and if they want to stick around and explore more. Some statistics suggest that 80% of web traffic will be visual by 2021.
If you’ve been to a website with amazing graphics, an easy-to-use interface, and a wonderful, seamless experience, you’ll understand how graphics can affect your experience. The fact that you may or may not remember your browsing experience on most websites probably means that those websites have been done well.
On the flip side, websites that have confusing, grainy, and distracting graphics do a lot of things wrong – most of all, they lose customers.
The user experience is influenced by what your page looks like From the graphics and the placement of your menus to the simple search for what you are looking for. Either way, you will be judged on a visual basis and it is important to get it right.
Consistent imagery creates a consistent brand identity
Websites can have a variety of looks, from plain, sleek, and simple to busy, colorful, and fun – and so many ways in between. Some websites have interactive graphics. Others are peppered with icons and avatars. Additionally, some other websites can capture an audience with interesting high-resolution images (think nature photos). However, other websites can keep everything clear with limited images and text. What you decide determines your brand aesthetic. And that aesthetic needs to be consistent across all of your platforms – from your website, to your office, to your social media, to your business cards. Absolutely. Everyone. Piece. Of. Material. Needs. To. Game.
It is a good idea to think about what your images are supposed to be early on say and Be and then decide on all platforms. And it’s okay to remodel and change your mind later. Watch this video to see how the Apple logo has changed over time – from a Sir Isaac Newton-inspired image in 1976, to the colorful version two years later, to the simple logo of today.
Even if you change over time, make sure your branding images are updated on all platforms at all times. You don’t want your logo from five years ago sneaking into marketing emails today.
Pictures can make you stand out and tell your story
Let’s be honest. The market is – most likely – saturated with everything you do, and any way you can stand out and stand out from the crowd is a bonus. Creating custom images, custom graphics, and an overall custom artwork is sure to make you stand out from a website that uses silly, overused stock photos. (I mean, have you seen any of these poses? Nobody is that happy in a business meeting, Brenda and Steve.)
Another way that pictures stand out is for them to consistently tell your story. When your images all have the same gloss, look, and theme, it further connects your brand. Just as you want your website and blog text to have a consistent feel, sound, and tone, you want to create consistency in your images too. After all, the visuals are the other half of your story. Visuals complete the picture.
This is why news articles that make headlines are often accompanied by a picture, which has sometimes got them into trouble. Visuals influence the reader. For example, if there is an article about a man on trial and the man is well dressed, the reader will get a positive impression and perceive that person as “not guilty” (whether that is true or not), but if so Headline is accompanied by a messy, crude-looking mug shot of the same man, readers will convict him as “guilty”. (That way, the news also affects readers’ opinions, but that’s a different matter.)
Here, too, a consistent and clear brand presentation creates a professional overall impression and enables potential customers to have a positive impression of your brand.
Best Practices Regarding Images
Here are some image best practices.
- Hire a professional Photographer and / or graphic designer who can create custom graphics for your website.
- For example, if you look at a company blog that has consistent graphics for the visuals, are they perceived as more trustworthy? What if they used random stock images and all the images were different sizes and some were grainy and indistinct? Even something as simple as adding a branded filter to your image can add consistency if you don’t have the budget for custom graphics.
- Keep things simple– at least at the beginning. White space is your friend. Good web design is not always about what you see, but what you see not see. It’s about layout; it’s about visual space and attractiveness.
- On each page, consider the user experience. Is your homepage too busy? Is the home page easy to navigate? Are your blogs easy to read? After visiting this page, can users take a “next step” (e.g. exit the page, view another blog, view a different product, etc.)?
- If you sell products, Create stunning product shots. There’s a reason Clinique created a brand just Product shots for its make-up range. Unlike many other brands, they have chosen to showcase their products and packaging rather than depicting models wearing their products. And that choice seems to have paid off. But do you think the year-long campaign would have worked if these images had been bad?
- Regardless of your business, make sure that all of your images are visually interesting, attractive, and high-resolution.
- Remember it it’s about the details. Take into account every detail of your website’s visual appearance and overall user experience, from a logo at the top of the browser tab to subtle transitions. You want nothing to be distracting, everything to work subconsciously to attract people to your website.
- It’s a good idea to sketch out what you want your website’s pages to look like, and to look at websites that you like as examples of what you want to create for your own brand.
- Grid structures often work well. Strict grid structures make websites appear effortlessly organized. As humans, we like some kind of visual structure, and website grids do that well. Also remember the rule of thirds.
- Show your face! People like to buy from people. Better yet, if you can tell a story about why you started your business and ethos. Showcase all of the lovely people who work for you by creating an “About Us” page that shows the faces who work for you. However, as with any category, hire someone to take these company photos.
- You can choose whether you want your photos to be funny or serious. Some websites have a legitimate company photo and then scroll over the picture to show the more “personality” employee wearing their less than corporate style. Whatever you choose, make sure you hire professionals and not take photos with a camera phone.
The bottom line of the entire “best practice” list is to hire people who know what they’re doing when it comes to creating stunning images – be it through photography or computer graphics. The first time you buy quality, you don’t have to update your images as often as if you would do it poorly – since high quality images stand the test of time.
We are a visual world and people will be judging your website very quickly. Make sure your images and design match your brand.
Do you need a website redesign or just a picture update?
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