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Great Images for WebsitesI was on Telegraph Avenue walking home from class in Berkeley when I first saw him with his shoulder length straight dark hair and black hat. I can’t remember what we connected about, but after a long chat before veering our separate ways, he asked to meet for coffee.

The next day, I found a table by the coffee shop window and soon he joined me, wearing the same hat. After coffee and chatting, he got up to leave and took off his hat. To my surprise, he was totally bald on the top of his head!

I don’t really care about a guy having a full head of hair, but I felt duped by the long hair and hat cover up. Had he been hatless from the start, it would have been fine and I would have known the truth. Instead I felt like a bait-and-switch victim, like I couldn’t trust him and felt sorry for him at the same time.

This is how your website visitors feel when you post images of your business that are not accurate or honest. It’s a big fail when the home page of your law firm website, for instance, features an image of a happy diverse group of young attorneys (which tend to look cheesy anyway) and your about page shows the real group of frumpy old white guys. Your visitors will feel tricked like I did with the guy and his hat.

Websites need great imagery. From the hero image on the home page to your team photos, your page graphics and blog posts, photography and illustrations will set the tone for the site. The images you choose are very important to how your company will be perceived.

I am going to tell you about five mistakes I commonly see people making with their image selections and then share some of my secret resources for finding great images.

Watch for these common image mistakes:

Mistake 1: Unheroic hero shots. Most people understand the importance of great images for the homepage, the main photos on a website’s homepage are referred to as hero images for a reason. Yet, in many cases the homepage images are not heroic, epic or even good.

Mistake 2: No blog post image (or a poorly-placed one). An image in your blog post is not only decorative but also helps draw the eye of the reader. Many blog formats are designed for readability; an easy format is to use a left-aligned image at the start of the blog post. The image should be about a third of the width of the content area. Because this image position shortens the first line of text by half (300-400 pixels rather than 600 to 750 pixels), the reader is encouraged to start reading. Our eyes prefer the shorter line of text, so the image sets you up for an engaging conversation with your reader. It’s up to your subject and writing style to hold their interest as the text grows to the full width of the column.

Mistake 3: Overused stock photos. Sometimes business owners who aren’t very creative and want to do what everyone else is doing choose some of the most god-awful overused stock business. This makes their sites look cheap. The point of a good website is to set you apart from your competitors. Whether you are a business owner doing content marketing or a web designer creating websites for a company, great images are out there. Take a little time to find images with the right look and feel for your brand. Stock photography, video and graphics are fine if they are carefully chosen to be consistent with your brand and they look authentic.

Don't steal from Google ImagesMistake 4: Google Images. It’s a bad idea to grab images from Google Images. They don’t belong to you. These images often are from other people’s websites, and they own or made the images, or hopefully got the license to use them. Keep in mind that anyone easily can run a free reverse image search tool such as Tin Eye and find every instance of that particular image on the web. Don’t get busted!

Mistake 5: Underestimating the necessary effort. Often our clients will think they can find an image that will work, but the image is usually not the right orientation, or the area of interest in the image is spread out wrong for the particular space. Good images are even harder to come by if they have people in them. We do use stock image photography or video for our sites but we are very picky about the images we choose. And we always suggest our clients get their head shots taken by a professional photographer. The reason a website rises above the competition is because the owner paid attention to the work needed to make the images look as good as possible.

Remember, a picture is worth 1000 words.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Paul Latta
    Reply

    Judicial and friends,
    I’ve used several images from http://www.sxc.hu. Most of the artists just ask for attribution which I freely give and add a link to their websites.

  • jan stittleburg
    Reply

    Thank you for mentioning using professional photographers, and asking, yes, ASKING, permission to use a photo from the web. Too many people think that anything on line is free for the taking, not realizing that by using the photo, they are stealing from the owner. And Professional Photography may be expensive, but if you want a photo to say 1000 words, make sure they are good words! A bad, unfocused, fuzzy, unlit photo makes your website and your product look cheap.

    • Judi Knight
      Reply

      Nothing is better for a site than a professional photographer who can capture the essence of a business and its team.

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