Images can definitely make or break a website. The wrong images can make people run from your website faster than Google can keep up. And the right images can tell your potential clients a story that draws them in your business.
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1. Don’t Use Photos from Your Cell Phone
I know, having a camera at your fingertips all day long makes it so easy to take pictures. But step away from your library of selfies when choosing images for your website.
While cell phone cameras have come a long way in the last few years, there is still a big difference between a camera taken with a phone and one taken with a DSLR camera. Photos taken from a DSLR camera will give you a sharper image, more vivid colors, and a better zoom.
Pictures taken with a cell phone look pixelated on a website, especially when being used as a header image. Have you ever looked at a picture online that looks grainy or like it has little squares in it? That’s what happens when an image is made bigger than it was supposed to be. It’s called pixelation, and makes your website look like amateur hour! And that’s not what you want at all when you’re building a business.
2. Take Your Own Photos with a DSLR Camera
If you have a DSLR camera, you can take some great photos for your website. Here are some important tips to keep in mind when acting as your own photographer:
- Shoot in natural light – Light is your friend! Shoot in natural light and make your photography come alive.
- Use a tripod – Don’t take the risk of having a shaky photo or the focus being off. A simple tripod is a small investment that is definitely worth the cost.
- Use a lightbox for product photos – My heart sinks every time I see a great product being ruined by terrible photos! Buy a lightbox or build your own.
- Avoid using filters when editing – If you need to edit your photos, then adjust the light or contrast. Applying a filter makes your photos look like an amateur took them.
3. Use Quality Stock Photos
Let’s face it, there are some pretty terrible stock photos out there. Just to be clear, I don’t at all suggest using a cheesy stock photo for your website. If a picture makes you want to gag when you look at it, DON’T USE IT!!
There are some great stock photo sites now when you can get quality images without making a huge investment.
My favorite free stock photo site right now is Kaboompics. There are some really creative and different images on there that don’t get my gag reflex going. In fact there are a bunch I’d love to frame and hang up around my home because they’re gorgeous!
You can also buy stock images from sites like Creative Market. Buying a package of images is a great way to save money while having a consistency to your branding.
Powered by Creative Market
4. Remember Your Branding
One picture is worth a thousand words, right? That one picture needs to be communicating the same thing as the rest of your branding.
(If you’re not sure what branding is, it’s basically what your business is telling the world. Your logo, website, social media presence, colors, fonts, images, and more all help make up your brand. These things help great brands tell stories that resonate with their potential clients.)
Some things to consider when choosing an image in terms of your branding:
- Colors – If you have a bright and bubbly brand, then you don’t want to choose a dark and mysterious picture for your website. Colors produce feelings in us; make sure the pictures you choose give off the right feelings for your brand.
- Content – Have a business for mompreneurs like me? Use photos of moms and kids, not buff men skydiving. The content of your photos should appeal to your target audience.
- Style – Using stock photos from the same photographer would be the perfect way to make sure your images had the same style. Since that’s pretty hard to do without forking over a small fortune, try to stick with a handful of photographers you like.
5. Size Your Images for Speed
Someday I’ll write a whole blog post just on this topic. But for now, know that having huge images on your website slows it down. Like a lot. And a slow site hurts your rankings with Google AND means that people will leave your website.
If you’re like 90% of Internet users, you bounced right off that site if it took more than 5 seconds to load. Yikes! That’s like saying goodbye to your online business right there.
One of the easiest ways you can improve your page speed is to use images that are sized correctly for your site. That means if your hero image is 1600 x 500 px, don’t use an image that is 3000 px wide. It will take an eternity to load because it is SOOO big.
The easiest way to resize your images is to use a program like Canva or Photoshop. Create a canvas the size of the image you need on your website. And then upload the photo you want to use to that canvas. Save the file as a jpg (unless it is a logo- then use a png file) and upload it to your website. Ta-dah! Site speed immediately improved.
In case you’re not sure how fast or slow your website loads, check out the website speed test from Pingdom. It will give you a list of things you can improve. If your images are too big and taking too long to load, Pingdom will let you know!
Don’t Let Bad Pictures Kill Your Website
Images aren’t the only thing that are important for good web design, but they certainly are towards the top of the list. Use these tips to make sure that your website is attracting people to you, not making them run (or bounce) in the other direction.