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How important is good imagery in web design?

By Kelvin Sprague
November 22, 2021

How important is good imagery in web design?

The answer to how important good imagery in website design is simple… it’s crucial.

Good web design is elevated to new levels with strong, well-composed photography, uploaded at a sufficient enough definition to remain sharp and in focus. We believe this is such an important aspect that we think you should have a strategy defined for the upkeep of your website to ensure that the photography remains as sharp as the day it was handed over to you – all shiny and new from your creative agency.

Website Fundamentals

When building a website, the structure has to be sound. It is essential the website is cleanly-coded and well-structured to ensure good Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) practice. If you want to rank well in Google, this is a fundamental truth. Secondly, content is king so you must define your business model clearly, outline the products and services on offer with equal clarity, being mindful of associated keywords and ensuring good readability.

Call to Action

Your website has good bones, built on a solid reliable platform. You’ve optimised the text to clearly define your offering but what happens next? Make sure you have a strong call to action (sometimes referred to as CTA). This may be as simple as asking your potential customer to pick up the phone and give you a ring. It might be requesting them to complete a form, sign up for a newsletter or you may require a transaction to take place if you are selling a product. So make sure you identify your call to action clearly and ensure the process is as easy as possible to complete.

So just how important is the imagery then?

Here’s where all of the above actions can come crashing down around your ears. If you’ve put the fundamentals detailed above in place then you have successfully captured your visitor from their Google musings and they can instantly see what you want them to do next. So why haven’t they hit that ‘Buy Now’ button? What has stopped them picking up the phone to book an appointment?

It could just be your images.

Bad images block action

A picture paints a thousand words, or so they say. We’ve all seen grainy, badly-lit or blurred photography but hopefully this experience is restricted to Facebook or your family WhatsApp group. The websites of the top brands will not contain badly lit, grainy, out of focus, low definition imagery. You wouldn’t buy a product from Apple if all their products were blurred and out of focus on their website.

Equally, there is a reason the big car brands shoot their vehicles driving through spectacular landscapes, or trendy urban environments. Staging your photographs in the wrong location or the producing imaes of poor quality, lessens the user experience (UX).

If your imagery is shoddy then surely your services also lack the same level of care and consistency? People assume that products that appear grainy and dark will perform poorly? These are questions/thoughts that are likely to cross a user’s mind.

So what can I do?

Hire a professional photographer

Hiring a professional to get the right results doesn’t have to break the bank. You can hire a photographer to visit you at your business for as little as a couple of hundred pounds. And even if you require a studio, there are some very reasonable options that don’t cost the earth. Hiring a professoinal photographer may seem daunting but if sales are hit by bad photography, the cost of not hiring a professional may be much higher.

Use your smartphone

Advances in technology, combined with skill and good lighting, mean some amazing results can be achieved with a simple smartphone. The images created are easily large enough for use on the web and, with a simple app, you can add some stylish effects and gain some powerful editing capabilities. Just don’t overdo the gimmicky effects!

Download Royalty-Free Imagery

There are many sites out there now providing fantastic royalty-free photographs. This imagery is free to use in a commercial manner. Attributions are occasionally required but often even this is not necessary.

Here are just four of our favourites:
Pixaby – https://pixabay.com
Unsplash – https://unsplash.com
Pexels – https://www.pexels.com/royalty-free-images/
Free Images – https://www.freeimages.com

Not every image on the sites above is royalty-free but many of them are, so please ensure you check the usage rights for any image you find before using.

What size should my image be?

Even many smart phones now shoot images that are way larger than the image size you will need for your website. But the question is, what is the right size image to upload? Well you don’t want to load huge images to your website. Although they will look fantastic, overly large images will add significantly to your page loading time and this will have a negative effect on your SEO rankings.

So what size should an image be when loading it to a website? At the time of writing our rule of thumb is no larger than 2000 pixels in height or width, whichever is the larger length, at 72 dpi (dots per inch). So this might result in an image of 2000 x 1500 pixels @ 72 dpi. Saved as a jpg in Photoshop, with a quality setting of 8 (high), would generate an image of about 430 kb.

Now even this might be a little large and you could afford to reduce it down a little, depending on how large the final image is when embedded into your website. But anything of this size will generate a perfectly respectable quality image on even the larger high resolution monitors.

Ideally you will load images set to the exact size required on the website saved at 72 dpi.

Don’t lose a client

In summary, a fantastic web design can be let down by the uploading of bad imagery. It can make your organisation look unprofessional and lazy. You might be thinking: I don’t sell any products, and I’m not a photographer so what does it matter?

Trust us when we say it matters. Like bad spelling, poor photography is a real turn-off to customers. And if you lose just one potential client, who knows what business they may have brought your way.

So polish up your professional photography and sharpen up your online images!

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