When building a website, one of the hardest obstacles to overcome is deciding upon which photography to include on your website. Many times, clients think that photography will be a huge endeavor and expense for professional talent. No matter what kind of photography you use, if implemented poorly, great photos can look bad…and vice versa.
Here are 5 quick tips to try to give your website an instant refresh utilizing any type of photography you have.
Keep Images Consistent
Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to make your website feel disjointed is to choose images that are inconsistent. It happens to the best of us - over time, we find images that serve a single purpose but may lose sight of how they all fit into the bigger picture. When Images conflict or compete, it can create an unpolished feel for your visitors, costing your brand credibility and conversions.
Be sure to choose images that have similar lighting or filters, or images that fit into your brand style for the best results. This is especially important if you are mixing stock and original photography.
If you’re not sure where to start in terms of “style”, try checking your brand guide if you have one. You may get information from your positioning that can steer you in the right direction for photos, or it may explicitly tell you some do’s and don’ts for photos. If your website and brand have a mostly light and airy vibe, then using dark, moody photography may feel out of place. Once you find a direction to go in, it’s best to stick with it.
Sometimes, all a photo needs is a little cropping to make it work better… or worse. Cropping refers to the act of cutting out a portion of a photo to focus on a specific subject or to improve its composition. It is an important consideration when using photos on a website because it can significantly affect the visual impact and message of the image.
When it comes to cropping images, be mindful of what you are looking to achieve.
Cropping can allow you to remove distracting elements and create a tighter composition that draws the viewer's attention to the most important part of the image. It also helps to ensure that the photo fits appropriately into the website's layout. You can also use cropping, or lack thereof, to create space for copy or calls to action.
Just as you can use cropping to enhance an image, keep in mind that improper cropping can also detract from an image. For example, if you select a portrait (taller than wide) photo to use in a full screen width section, the composition will be cropped significantly so it can fit into a landscape format (wider than tall). Imagine it as trying to look at a rectangle through a square-shaped hole, parts of the image just aren’t going to be visible. This could produce less than desirable results for you. Consider what is important for your image, and be sure to select an image that will fit your intended composition best.
Images will crop automatically when scaled down for mobile devices. Sometimes you can lose important parts of an image on mobile, leaving it with less of in impact. Be sure to consider how your photo will look different on mobile, and if necessary, submit an alternate layout or photo for mobile all together.
By carefully selecting and cropping images, you can create a more professional and polished look for your website, improve its overall user experience, and enhance the visual storytelling of your content.
Use Photos That Feel Unique— Or Give Them a Unique Feel
Original photography is the best way to make your website feel 100% unique to your brand. Sometimes though, it just isn’t in the budget to hire a professional photographer.
Even if you don’t have a professional camera, the next best thing is probably in your pocket! Modern smartphones can still produce great results with their easy-to-use camera. Try your hand at grabbing some of your own photos for your website. You can look up a few tips on iPhone photography to brush up on composition and lighting before snapping a few (fun fact: we took some photos on our website with an iPhone… can you guess which?). You can then edit them, and crop them in different ways to see what works and what doesn’t. You may be surprised at the results.
If taking photos is out of your comfort zone, try checking locally for some freelancers or even students who may be interested in offering photography at an affordable price. Photographers come in all shapes and sizes with different areas of interest. It may take some searching, but it is possible to find someone who is good with a camera that doesn’t break the bank.
Stock photos are also a convenient and often less expensive option than professional photography, but some images are used frequently on the internet and can instantly make your website feel cliché. To avoid this, try editing your stock photos into something that feels unique. You could change the colors or even play with the cropping for a unique feel. If you need to create something specific that doesn’t exist as a single image, try working with a graphic designer to use multiple stock images to create a new composition. Sometimes, a little design love can make stock photography go a long way.
Bigger is Always Better
This point refers not only to the file size and the quality but to how you are using images as well on your website. Gone are the days of text-heavy websites with small images. Large, relevant images and background areas are a trend that is not going away any time soon.
Because the internet is a highly visual place now, you will need to take advantage of every pixel and kilobyte that you can if you are going to create a visually impactful website with big, striking images. To make this work effectively, you should always work with the largest, highest quality you have — and then optimize down for the web.
By working with the largest quality of image you can get, you reduce the risk of pixelization and distortion on the web by stretching images out larger than they are, which will run the risk of making your brand look bad in the end. Small images are small images—you can’t change that about them. Save small images to support text in other ways and use only your largest files for those areas that are meant to pack a punch.
If you’re not using large, impactful photo areas on your website currently, try implementing a few. You may be shocked at what a difference some large featured images will do for a website.
Refresh Imagery Regularly
Swapping your photos out from time to time will not only grab the attention of previous visitors quickly, but it will also help you appear relevant. You should always keep in mind your audience and what motivates them to do business with you—and in some cases, they are always evolving. Unless your mission is to be a nostalgic brand, if your photos look reflective of styles and trends that were popular 20 years ago, then your website and image will feel stale quickly. Your audience is looking to see if they see a little bit of themselves in you, so make sure the images you choose are relevant to today’s aspirations.
Does your website feel a little blah? Do you think it could use a little something, but not sure what that is or how to get it there? You can try these tips to give your website a little TLC, or talk to our team of website experts and see how Pittsburgh’s best web design agency can help you bring your website vision to life.