There is absolutely no doubt that photography is an important element of website design. You have a small window of opportunity to make an impression on a new visitor (and potential customer) to your website. Our eyes are drawn to images. You need to make that first impression a good one.
Many of us are visual creatures, who will remember an image a LOT more readily than written text. The chances are, most people won’t read the text on your web pages word-for word, so help them commit your site to memory, and use some images.
More good reasons to include images on your website include:
- They help break up boring blocks of text and make pages visually appealing
- You can strengthen your visual branding by using consistent images that convey your business’ message
- Photographs are another opportunity to drive traffic to your website, if they are optimised for image searches
- Web pages with images are more likely to be shared on social media platforms
- Great photos will sell your products/skills/services and are just as important as a written description
- You can increase trust in your brand by using the right photographs on your website
- People love to click on images; keep your visitors engaged and interested
- Photographs of your team on your website increase trust in your brand
- Images contribute to a great user experience (UX)
A picture speaks a thousand words.
You have three options of where to get your photos from; stock photography, hire a professional, or DIY. Let’s have a look at their pros and cons..
The world of stock photography is big. You have a huge choice of websites where you can acquire stock images, with prices starting from completely free (for images released under Creative Commons CC0).
Pros of stock photography:
- Low cost solution
- It’s a quick fix
- Lots of variety and choice of images
- High quality stock photos are better than poor quality, out of focus or unflattering DIY attempts
Cons of stock photography:
- Your images won’t be unique to your website
- Stock images can appear too generic and predictable
- You need to be 100% clear on licensing and crediting the source of the images (where necessary) so you don’t land in hot water
If your budget allows, you should really consider hiring a professional photographer to shoot some unique and exclusive images for your website. At the very least, having a mixture of stock and pro photos will help your website stand out from the crowd.
Pros of professional photography:
- A professional photographer will know exactly how best to shoot your products, or get your message across using visuals
- You won’t find the same images on other websites
- Custom, professional images convey authenticity which increases customer trust
- Professional photography is another opportunity to strengthen your visual brand, using a style that is style unique to your business
Cons of professional photography:
- It’s not cheap
- It can be a time consuming process
- Sometimes it’s just not practical to hire a pro
These days, we’re all photographers. Or, at least, many of us think we are! If you are on a really tight budget, but still want custom images for your website, DIY might be the way forward.
Pros of DIY photography:
- If you already own the camera equipment and have an understanding of photography, DIY is free, quick and easy
- Even smart phone photography can look good, if you know what you’re doing (if not, it could look awful)
Cons of DIY photography:
- Ideally, you need a good quality (DSLR) camera – the outlay of this may be expensive
- You may have to learn how to use said camera which is time consuming (DSLRs are relatively complicated)
- You need to be prepared to do some research and understand the difference between shooting photographs for print vs for the web
I believe all three options have their online place. The most important thing to consider with photography in web design, is that the images you have chosen are appropriate and represent your business.
If you plan to use stock images, take the time to make broad searches and don’t just choose something off the first page. Try to find unique and interesting photographs that make a visual impact.
The photos featured in this post are all free stock images from Pixabay.