The 15-Point Guide to Choosing the Right Imagery for your Website Design
Images have the potential to make or break a site's effectiveness. Pick any popular website and you'll find it has chosen the perfect imagery to make its point. At a time when website success is judged by the engagement quotient of the site's pages, you can't afford to take chances with the imagery on your site. Let's take a look at how you use images that blend seamlessly with the other design elements of the site and also enhance the website message.
1. Sticky Images
The primary characteristic of sticky images is that they are memorable. They stick in your mind, so much so that you can't keep thinking about them. They hit you right between the eyes; they impress you so much that you want to go back to them.
Most sports websites ace the use of 'sticky images', Slazenger is a case in point. The onsite images are so good that you are tempted to at least go through the products, irrespective of whether you want to buy them or not.
2. Relevance – Imagery Perfectly Aligned with Website Purpose
What does your website do and who is its target audience? The answers to these two questions will ensure you are able to pick images that grab attention.
Levi's target market is the young, the hip and those who want to make a style statement. Every image on the site caters to this particular audience. It leaves no scope for imagination. The images convey website's message clearly. An image of models wearing the latest denim fashion, looking cool and enjoying them, is what relevant imagery is all about.
3. Services and/or Product centric imagery
If you really want to choose the right images for your site, make sure you focus on the products. Some of the more well established brands in the world focus on the products they bring to the table and nothing else.
You would think Gucci, would have come up with some innovative imagery for its site, but it doesn't and that's what works for it. It focuses on its products and does this extremely well.
4. Brand Personality and Characteristics
Your brand will want to convey special characteristics, for e.g. it might want to give across an impression of being cutting edge, funny or as in the case or Red Bull – energetic.
The images on the red bull site convey this characteristic with aplomb. Every page of the site reflects the brand characteristic.
5. Uncommon from the Common
Very often, your client might not have a budget earmarked for buying images. In that case you will have to pick free images that if you're not very careful will be the same as those that are used by other websites in the same niche. To be honest, if you are opting for free images, there are a very limited number of relevant images to pick from. So what you need to do is to try and make sure that you pick images that are not very common.
Pick images that you can modify and try giving a new twist to them. Try and make the most of a bad deal.
6. Pay for Them
If you're willing to pay for images, there will be a smorgasbord of delectable images to choose from. On the web, you must be absolutely sure you are legally using the images on your site. So, the best thing to do would be to set aside a budget for paid images and optimize its potential. Not all sources that sell images are expensive; there are plenty of affordable options that you can pick from. Zero in on the one that suits your needs and requirements best, and start using it.
7. Emotive Appeal
Not Just Pretty: Building Emotions into Your Websites is a must read to understand why websites need to have emotions baked into them. One of the primary ways you can ensure that happens is through the use of images. Church websites make solid use of emotions to bond with website visitors.
A sense of happiness, contentment and belonging are usually the emotions that are meant to be conveyed through the imagery on Church websites. And most do this admirably well and to great results.
8. Make Your Readers Smile
Tell me you don't want to smile when you see that image. The advantage in showcasing humor through website imagery is that people usually come back to it and are more inclined to share the website with their friends and followers. Such images are great for generating brand awareness.
9. Images that are Shockingly Out of the Box
Use images that are so attention grabbing that they make people want to know what your site is all about. A case in point being Camacho Cigars:
The image of the scorpion all poised to sting the cigar, makes you want to click on that 'Enter' button.
10. Use images that You Have Clicked
Become a photographer. It's not that difficult to work out a website concept that allows you to come up with your own cache of images for use, which you've photographed. In this case, the concept is everything. You don't want to be coming up with an idea for website design that requires images that you simply cannot photograph.
11. Use Descriptive Illustrations
Illustrations can make even the most mundane imagery look good. It helps make it look more interesting. This is what Disaronno, does brilliantly. The use of the bottle by itself wouldn't have stood out. However, mixing it up with clever illustrations has upped the design ante.
12. Use Images of Real People
Use images of real people, who don't come across as models, for e.g. if you're designing a site for a services firm, why not use images of people who're actually behind the firm or of people the firm has worked with. This builds credibility like nothing else can.
I didn't want to put in this pointer thinking it was a no brainer. Of course, you want images to be of very high quality on a site, but not many web designers take the pains to ensure their pictures are of very high quality. Many say it's impossible not to compromise on site speed, if they use large, clear, pixel perfect images. However, there are some great image compression tools available on the market, whose use ensures your site load speed isn't impacted by the high quality images you are using.
14. Use a Business Mascot
The chimp on MailChimp, the gorilla on Silverback, and the ninja on CouponNinja are just some of the examples of websites that are using mascot imagery to great benefit. You could do the same, but it isn't easy to design an interesting mascot. So, apart from thinking of a great design idea, you need to come up with a fantastic mascot as well. That requires double the effort. Are you up for it?
15. Be serious about imagery
Are you serious about the nature of images on your site? Are you willing to go the distance to pick the perfect images for your site? Are images an important part of your web design strategy? To put in a nutshell, images should be a critical part of your web design strategy. If they aren't, try as you might, you will not get them right.
Keep this 15-point guide in mind and keep adding to these pointers, to ensure you choose images that increase the impact of your website's design.