Selecting images for your website's home page, sub-pages, or blog posts, is often at the bottom of your To Do list -- if you get around to it at all.
The trouble is, images are actually quite important and deserve more time and attention than they often receive.
Think about how much time you spend looking at photos. If you're on social media, you likely spend a lot of your time looking at pictures, right?
We LOVE good pictures because they evoke emotions. Within a matter of seconds, they can make us laugh, cry, swoon, shudder, or gasp in awe. They humanize, add depth, and make things real and tangible.
Since we all carry cameras around in our pockets nowadays, we tend to think of ourselves as amateur photographers. So we generally feel pretty qualified to critique other people's photographs. Do you like to see good photography on a website, or are you okay with "family in front of house" or "headset girl" (you know who headset girl is).
If you're a business owner, I'd like to encourage you to spend some time choosing the right images for your website. Don't just pick a cheesy stock photo willy-nilly. Put some thought into it and choose wisely.
Here are some things to consider when choosing the right images for your website:
Blurry, grainy, or otherwise poorly snapped photos range from annoying to downright infuriating depending on the audience. Select only high definition photos for your site. Low-quality photos are grainy and pixelated, not smooth and sharp.
Do not stretch an image to fit in a space, as that will destroy its quality. Keep in mind you can always crop an image smaller, but you can't make a small image larger.
And finally, make sure the file size is small. Smaller files take up less memory, which will keep your site's load time quick. (Note: File size is different than image size or dimensions, which should be large.)
Since modern sites are designed to be mobile responsive, the photo needs to work on all screen sizes. Because of that, usually the bigger the image the better if it is covering a large space like a background or slider. Icons and certification badges usually fall in the thumbnail size, which is around 150 x 150 pixels.
Stock photo sites are everywhere. Choosing photos on these sites has never been easier - you can narrow them down through factors like keywords, color, size/shape, style, and cost.
Despite the fact that everyone and their brother uses stock photos on their websites, they are still useful. Just don't use the same tired images we see over and over... like headset girl.
Put some thought into it ahead of time. Do you want your images to be literal or metaphorical? Do you want a photo or an illustration? What size and shape do you want? How colorful? What style?
Your Audience Matters
When you're in business, it's crucial to appeal to your prospective customers. We call this your "target audience" or "target market". You can do that by writing compelling content geared toward your audience, but also by choosing photos that resemble or appeal to your target market.
For instance, if your target market is young women in their 20s and 30s, you don't want to use a photo of a mature woman in her 50s or 60s, or a married couple with teenaged kids. If your target audience is conservative retirees, you might not want a photo of a young person with tattoos and facial piercings. You get where I'm going with this. Your audience matters.
Think of using your website images to tell a story. They should be cohesive and consistent in tone and theme, as well as in style. Does your site use mostly desaturated (washed out) images? If so, then a bright, colorful photo might not be the best choice, as it disrupts the flow and consistency.