A picture is worth a thousand words or so the saying goes, so how much thought should you put into the pictures you use on your website, blog or e-mail newsletter? Pictures can be great assets to your website, but the wrong picture can create confusion and a poor quality photo can give the impression that your business is less than professional. So how should you choose the images you use?
Eye Catching but Relevant
Choose photos that are stunning. The photos should attract attention and make your readers curious about the story. The pictures should relate to the content and can even help tell your story, but try to avoid images that are too cliché. Extreme close ups or unusual camera angles can make your images stand out, but don’t get so abstract that the reader can’t figure out the relationship of the picture to your story.
People like looking at smiling faces, so when possible include images with people in them. Lifestyle photos are very appealing and can be very effective in soliciting emotion. For example, if you are a home builder or even a realtor some images on your site should be lifestyle photos. You are not just selling a house – you are selling a lifestyle. Use images that relate to your target demographic (race, age, sex) so that your visitors can identify with the images they see.
It is essential that you have permission to use the photos. It is not okay to simply do a Google search and download images. Make sure you are using copyright free photos or that you have obtained proper licensing. For stock photos, I like to use istockphoto.com or vectorstock.com, but there are lots of other stock photo sites. On the web you can usually manage with the smallest version of a photo so you are typically looking at a couple dollars per photo.
Good quality pictures can be the difference between having a mediocre site and a professional-looking site. Don’t use images that are blurry, grainy, or poorly lit, unfortunately this often means don’t use the pictures you took yourself. When possible use stock photos or hire a professional to take your photos. If you are using your own photos always pick the best ones. Just because you took 75 pictures doesn’t mean you need them all on your site!
I always recommend using at least one picture in your blog posts and several throughout your website as it will boost readership and interest. So take the time to find the right photos.