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How smart companies use images to boost their online presence

You might think for an agency that does so much web design and blogging, we’re just writing and geeking out on code all day.

And that’s partly true – we do do a lot of writing and custom coding (see why custom built websites are usually your best bet here).

But part of being a good digital agency is understanding the role that visuals play. Both in creating a website and fostering an online brand and presence.

Forget the old saying. Online, a picture is worth way more than a thousand words. That’s why today we’re covering how to choose photos for your website and online marketing. Photos that will really pop and make potential clients remember you.

And don’t worry. Even if you don’t have the budget for a fancy photographer, there’s still plenty of ways to get great images for your website, which we’ll also cover below.

Using Images in Marketing

Humans are visual creatures, and that doesn’t magically change when we go online. That’s why using images for online brand marketing is critical.

Every image you share should invoke an emotion and represent your brand identity – whatever makes you, you. Sure, taglines and content are incredibly important (and critical if you want to rank on Google).

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No matter what my company’s clients A Bear and Bison Inn write about their stunning locale, nothing can top this stunning image they’re using front-and-centre on their homepage.

But images tap into and relay your uniqueness in an instant. In fact, neuroscientists at MIT have determined that it only takes 13 milliseconds to process an entire image.

So if you want to create a connection with your audience in an instant, then crisp, beautiful photos that represent your brand well are the way to go.

Today’s customers want to connect with authentic brands. The better you’re able to serve them stunning images that paint a picture, the more likely they are to become raving fans. And the more likely they are to become ambassadors for you.

bavaria restaurant website heading

Hungry? Crisp photography from my company’s client Bavaria Restaurant really whets your appetite!

In fact, a study from BuzzSumo found that articles using an image once every 75-100 words received double the social media shares as articles with fewer images.

Clearly, images matter, and can dramatically improve your website content.

Importance of Images in Web Design

Given the fact that at least 38% of users will stop engaging with an unattractive website design, using attractive images in your website is a no-brainer.

But images do so much more for your website.

First, images on your website can improve your search engine optimization (SEO).

When Google scans your website, it looks at all your content, including your images. So good, optimized images can improve your Google rankings.

In fact, website content with images gets 94% more views than content without. So if you want more traffic, you need to use more photos on your website.

Using images properly can also keep people on your website longer.

And the stakes are even higher if you run an ecommerce website. According to this Kissmetrics study, 93% of buyers consider visual appearance to be the most important factor when making a purchase!

And like we’ve covered, images also keep users more engaged.

Remember that people are busy, and they tend to scan through websites. Breaking your text up with shorter paragraphs, and interspersed with interesting photos and infographics, can help make your website more accessible and user friendly.

family law firm website section

My client A Family Law Firm uses carefully sourced images to help flesh out their website content, making it much more user-friendly.

Of course, this only works if you’re using images properly. This means using only relevant and attractive images, with small file sizes. It’s also best to use images of people as much as possible.

We’ve compiled a go-to list of all the best practices for using photos and graphics in web design – find it here.

And remember, one of the most important elements of using images on your website or other online efforts is to ensure that you only use photos which you own or have the right to use, which we cover next.

How To Choose Photos For Your Website

So how to actually choose photos for your website?

First, think about the first impression you want to give. Create a brand guide that includes your brand colours and fonts, but also what look and feel you want your imagery to portray. And decide what types of images should and should not appear.

Ultimately, you want to be using high-quality images that deliver purpose and meaning. And it’s critical you have the right to use them.

If you have the budget to work with a photographer – great! Be sure to work with one who is willing to learn about your brand guide and work closely with you to create just the right images. This is one time where it really pays to be picky.

professional photographer

The right professional photographer can certainly help, but there are more options for getting images for your website.

And if you don’t have the budget to work with a photographer – great! There are so many options for great stock photography available now, which can be much more affordable, or even free.

For paid stock photos, we recommend Depositphotos, which we’ve used for years without a hitch.

And if you’re just starting out and need to stick to free photos, check out Unsplash. It has a large amount of beautiful stock photos. These are free to use, without attribution or permissions, for all commercial and non-commercial purposes.

When choosing stock photos, you need to be even more careful about choosing images that represent your brand well. Try to avoid stock photos where people are looking directly at the camera, which tend to be a bit cheesier and less authentic.

Finally, remember that visual clutter is actually a bad thing. Try to focus on using a few great images, smartly arranged. A good web developer can help ensure your website looks great and converts well. They will use just the right combination of beautiful images, captivating written content, and well-placed calls-to-action.

The better you’re able to use photos in your website and online marketing, the better you’ll be able to connect with your audience.

Originally published here.

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