Images are a great way to break up text-heavy website pages. They can also demonstrate very quickly what you are trying to portray – there is a lot of truth in the saying ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. But there are things you need to consider when deciding on the images to use on your website:
Whilst you might like a picture, it should be relevant to the content on the page. Not only does this help users understand the purpose of your page, an irrelevant image could be distracting from your content.
Your type of product or service will affect the size and number of images that might be suitable. If people need to see the details of your products then lots of images can be useful. But if you have more information that you need to impart through text, don’t overload your page with too many images that detract from your messages or take up space that could be better used for something else.
A Range of Images
Whilst it might seem a quick and cheap option to have the same banner image on every page, from a usability perspective, having different images helps the user know they have moved to another page. If all the images are the same, people might take a second to work out if they are on the same page or not.
Copyright, stock photos and original images
Images have to be legally yours to use, so check the copyright and if possible use images that are original. Just because you found a photograph on the internet does not mean it is available for everyone to use. Make sure any images you find are ok for you to use. Stock photographs are those provided by companies specifically for the purpose of using in literature and on websites. Some require a fee and others are free. Even if they are free, it is important to check the licence agreement; Does the photographer needed to be credited? Can the image be use for commercial purposes?
Stock photos can sometimes look a bit staged and you run the risk that other websites in your marketplace may also use the same images. Check out your competitors before you make a decision on an image. Website templates often come with standard photos. This is when it is most likely that your website may look like others using the same template.
Original photography is the best option but is more costly. The most cost-effective way to get images done is to plan carefully. If you are hiring a photographer for half a day plan it so you can get as many different shots as possible. Think ahead if you have any future requirements that you may have so you can get photos done in advance. Can you also get headshots of the staff done at the same time? The more different projects that you can combine together, make it overall better value for money.
Whilst mobile phones now give us the ability to take high resolution photos in the palm of our hand, you still need to be objective on whether these photos really are good enough for your website. A blog about a charity bike ride only needs a ‘snapshot’ but if you are trying to demonstrate the quality of an expensive product or service, the photography needs to reflect that.
Any photos you use on a website should be formatted correctly. If you use a phone for taking pictures it will no doubt be 5MB in image size. This is way too large the web. Ideally it should be more like 5% of that (250kb). The preferred format is jpeg rather than png. Photos that are too large could result in your pages taking too long to download. Not only is this frustrating for the user, but it can also be detrimental to organic search in the Google algorithm.
Conversely, images ensure that images are a good enough resolution so they so not appear blurry on screen.
Animations or Diagrams
These have the same issues as photographs in relation to copyright for ones you do not produce yourself. However producing images in-house is much easier than photography – with plenty of free tools on the internet to help you do this.
Of course if this all seems a bit daunting don’t forget we are here to help if you need it so get in contact.