“A picture is worth a thousand words”. This popular saying has been around for years, and it still holds true for building an effective website. While text grabs the attention of major search engines like Google and Bing, a well-placed picture grabs the attention of your human visitors.
Image placement is important, the content of the image is just as critical. When someone visits your home page, or is looking at a product you sell, people will naturally gravitate towards the images first, and read the content second. That being said, the image needs to convey the right impression, feeling, and give a reader a good sense of your company, service, or product.
Images by their very nature convey a mood to your readers. The colors, people, activities, background, setting, even lighting – all help communicate and paint a mental impression in the readers mind.
A well selected image can impress a reader, convey a powerful message, and give people an impression of what your company, product, service – or even you yourself – are really like. A poorly selected image can turn people off, annoy, confuse, or even irritate people. So how do you select the right image?
The first step in choosing an appropriate image is determining what you need the image for. For example, are you displaying a product, or is it more decorative? Or are you trying to deliver a more artistic impression?
Determining the main purpose of the image is the first step in effective selection. For a product, something that clearly shows the product – perhaps even an image of the product in use – would often be effective. If you are trying to grab people’s attention with your image, generally the most effective images are ones of animals, famous people, images that tell a story, or something that’s news related. For a business, often an image that conveys professionalism, warmth, and friendliness is most effective.
The second principal is to consider what information you want your image to convey. Is your image or picture designed to help inform a reader? Do you want the image to educate a reader on a product, service, or to inform about something specifically?
Even if the information could be conveyed with words, often times an image will garner more attention. It’s one of the reasons that pie charts and colorful graphs show up in company presentations. If you can visually depict what you want to say, you’ll grab attention more often than not.
If you’ve got a handle on the images content, what you want it to say, and what impression you want to leave on your visitors, the next step is setting the mood.
If you want to plan a romantic dinner, you often turn the lights down and light a few candles. You wouldn’t flood the room with concert spotlights (unless that’s your idea of romance). The same is true with your image selection.
A black and white image might convey a more artistic impression, or a more vibrant image could be more decorative and appealing. Considering the context, and keeping the mood consistent – at least, page by page – is also critical. Another effective technique is establishing the mood you want to convey for the entire website, and selecting images that compliment that mood.