What Your Website Imagery Is Really Saying About Your Business
First impressions count. And when it comes to web design, you’ve got a matter of moments to make that impression stick. Either that or your new visitor will be just one more increment on your bounce metric.
In general, when someone visits a website for the first time, they make their initial evaluation based almost entirely on visual elements. Your layout, color scheme, branding, and even loading speeds all have their part to play in this. The latter is particularly relevant because a slow website means no visuals at all to seize the attention of the visitor before they get bored and look elsewhere. But while all that is important to keep in mind, what we’re here to talk about right now is your website imagery.
Whether you use eye-catching graphics, quality photography or something a bit more abstract, the imagery you choose will be one of the primary factors in whether a new visitor sticks around to learn more, or leaves, never to return.
Different Strokes for Different Folks
Horace wrote that painting was much like poetry. By that, he meant that different types of images appeal to different people, are viewed better in different conditions, and so on, much as a poem will appeal to some people more than others.
While you may not be painting your onsite imagery, though that’s definitely an option, the rule still applies. No matter how stylish, eye-catching, or just plain chic your website is, it won’t appeal to everyone. The important thing is that it works for your intended audience.
Think about the personality of your brand, and how you want to come across to your intended audience.
- An upmarket brand seeking to evoke success and high society might settle for high contrast, detailed product photography, that shows off the quality and visual appeal of your range. Or you might go for a more minimalist luxe look that plays on black and white themes.
- Alternatively, if you want to convey a more relaxed, down-to-earth vibe, why not spruce up your page with some catchy line art. Or perhaps some cheerful shots of families enjoying your products?
- Are you selling to a busy B2B executive? What about the power of illustrations and vectors in drawing the eye and cutting up complex copy?
It’s all about balancing your website visuals and imagery with your customer and buyer personas. You want their experience of your website to match their needs and expectations. Your visuals need to be mapped onto the customer journey, not tacked on afterwards as an afterthought.
If you are feeling stuck for ideas or need some new tools to freshen things up, check out our handy tools list.
The trick to great web design is not only within your choice of imagery but also in its arrangement… or absence. White space is a powerful tool that can be used to add emphasis to an image or text, to juxtapose elements, or simply to give your site a clean, minimalist aesthetic.
Too many images can convey mixed messages and may give a poor impression of your business. This is largely because pages become slower to load. And each image can distract from the rest, making your layout appear cluttered. The result is that your intended sentiment becomes less obvious.
That’s not to say that the minimalist approach is the only way forward. Nonetheless, however many visual elements you choose to include, be sure that each one is relevant to your message. If every part of your design counts, the final impression will be far more coherent and appealing to your customers.
Image cred: Burst
If we’re still comparing pictures to poems…
When it comes to coherent web design, each image is a haiku, carefully crafted to convey a very specific idea. So when you tie them all together, your website becomes a renga, in which image’s message becomes part of a coherent whole.
Think about the styles and themes used in your imagery. Then consider the placement on the page and even the design and prominence of your logo. Having a consistent style throughout your website not only makes it seem more professional and easier to navigate. It also makes customers feel more familiar with your brand, and its related aesthetics.
In a child’s picture book, the images are designed to help the child find their way through the story – even if they’re not sure of all the words. The same applies to your website. Your use of imagery enables you to add another dimension to your content, guide visitors through the site, and illustrate your ideas in a unique and memorable way.
Your website imagery needs to be evocative. Your brand has a story to tell. And your choice of visual elements will convey it louder and more surely than any accompanying text. So if you’ve settled on a batch of stock photography, that story might simply be another “Once upon a time…” that few people will be willing to stick around to hear.
In contrast, a striking, original photo with a well-lit subject and good use of color starts its story with “The dragon came crashing through the ceiling…” And who doesn’t want to hear the next part of that tale?
Think of your onsite images as a sort of meta-ekphrasis. They need to evoke your brand, whilst also becoming part of it in the process. Select each image carefully based on its relevance to the story you want to tell. Consider how it fits into your wider narrative. Use this knowledge to juxtapose it with other images, or complement it with web copy.
It can be hard to stand out with stock images. However, Burst has recently come out with some lovely business images that lend themselves to storytelling without being too stereotypical. Image curation, as well as creation, will help you plot your brand narrative in a way that’s not only effective but also cost-effective.
There’s no magic formula for compelling web imagery. After all, your choice of images, as with every other aesthetic element on your website, needs to be in keeping with your brand and its intended message. Remember, it’s fine to shake things up and break the mold, as long as it fits your brand identity, and most importantly, you do it with style.
Whether you go for something clean and polished, freeform and stylistic, or simple and understated, commit to that decision, and create something unique, memorable and exemplary. Not only will this wow your visitors, but it will also establish your brand as one that stands on its own two feet, and knows exactly how to get the attention of its audience.
Over To You
Have you changed your visual style over the years? Have you found these changes to have been clearly beneficial? Please tell your fellow readers your thoughts on this subject. Thanks in advance!
You may also want to read: 5 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Experience
Featured image: Copyright: ‘https://www.123rf.com/profile_leonido‘ / 123RF Stock Photo
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