Good images make a good website, pure and simple.
Think of any site that you like, and I guarantee there’s an eye-catching photo or illustration that caught your attention.
There are some basic principles that I follow when designing a website, such as that people respond to colour, faces and movement. My best websites combine all three, with the result that visitors spend longer on the site and are more likely to contact the owner.
However despite these simple rules of website design, the majority of sites, especially corporate ones, continue to break them. Here are the 3 main errors of design judgement that I see time and time again:
1. Reliance on Stock photography
Stock photography (by which I mean the online libraries where you pay to download images) has its place. If you’re looking for incidental shots that represent industry sectors, for example, it can be very useful.
The problem occurs when a company presents stock photography of models posing as their staff (who clearly don’t work there), or buy a suite of clichéd pictures where someone is inscribing corporate jargon on a clear acetate board, in reverse, and smiling smugly to themselves. You must have seen these pictures, and so has everyone else, so avoid them at all costs!
2. Amateur photography
Having just bashed stock photography, I’m now going to advise you not to use photographs taken on a smartphone, no matter how high res, or on a cheap digital camera. Without a tripod, a decent lens, professional lighting and possibly a touch-up in Photoshop, you’re unlikely to achieve the colour, focus and quality of image that will impress visitors to your website.
It’s important that people gain an immediate impression of professionalism, quality and style when they hit your home page – don’t undermine your company’s credibility with cheap images. It’s a false economy, plus if you commission professional photography, it doesn’t need to cost a great deal and you’ll have a suite of images ready for other marketing activity.
Your images will be relevant to your business, showcase your staff and skills, and avoid the next potential pitfall, which is…
3. Don’t ‘borrow’ images from the internet
You may not be aware of this, but some of the largest online image sellers have invested in technology which scans websites for unlicensed images. This is an automated process and it can recognise even a section of a stock photo, which is then cross referenced. If you didn’t buy the image, or your license has expired, you may receive a legal letter demanding a hefty fee.
Notification may come months after you used the image, but it’s becoming increasingly common and I get a lot of calls on this issue. Your best bet is to avoid using images you find online, say in a
Google image search, altogether. Instead there are some free libraries, or as I mentioned previously, consider investing in your own library.
If you’d like the images for your new website, please feel free to get in touch. My interest is in creating good looking websites that do three things:
- Grab people’s attention and hold it long enough for the message to get across
- Are fully interactive and encourage visitors to make contact
- Achieve top positions in the search engine rankings
Images are a big part of this, and I advise anyone planning a new website to consider them as an integral part of the project.