Best Practices For Using Photos and Graphics in Web Design
Let’s update the old cliché. If a photo is worth a thousand words, then a digital photo, on your website, is worth a thousand clicks.
That’s because using images in website design is one of the simplest things you can do to make your website more popular – both with users and with search engines.
There are many reasons to use images on your website. Images and graphics can:
– Improve your SEO,
– Help your company brand, and
– Create more user engagement.
In the end, a more attractive website simply performs better.
Of course, images will only work if you use them correctly, and we’ll cover best practices below. But first, let’s explore why you might want to use photos and graphics in the first place.
Why Use Images in Website Design
Start paying attention as you browse the Internet. You’ll almost never see a website that doesn’t use images in some way. And if you do find it, it’s probably ancient, and you probably won’t be forced to spend a lot of time there.
No web designer who deserves their salt will publish written content without including images and graphics to break up the text.
The long, scrolling pages of the written word are called ‘walls of text’, and no one likes to read them.
But we don’t just add images to websites because they look beautiful (even so). Using images effectively on a website can drastically improve its performance.
Here are three main reasons to use images in website design:
1. Website Images Can Improve Your SEO
If you want lots of good, quality traffic to your website, you have two options:
1) You can spend thousands of dollars on advertising, or
2) You can do good SEO. And including rich images is an important part of good SEO.
Search engine optimization, or ‘SEO’, is the practice of optimizing your website for search engines.
You want to make it as easy as possible for Google (and other search engines) to understand what your website is about, so they can show it to relevant users. The better your site is search engine optimized, the more likely you are to appear at the top of search results – and the more likely customers will want to find you.
Remember Google is just a robot. It scans your site, looking for specific metrics like tags, titles, and written content to understand what your company is about. When it scans your site, it also sees images, which is why good, optimized images can help your overall SEO.
Case in point: content with images gets 94% more views than those without. So if you want more traffic, you need to use more photos on your website.
Of course, this only works if you use relevant images and follow best practices, which we’ll discuss further below.
2. Images Can Help Your Company Brand
The right image can bring your brand to life in ways that text can’t. Neuroscientists have discovered that we can identify a viewed image in as fast as 13 milliseconds. This is much faster than the blink of an eye. When you use attractive images on your website, visitors will immediately begin to understand your brand.
If you haven’t spent time developing your brand, check out my tips for creating a unique brand identity.
And if you’ve spent time developing your brand, use it! You don’t want your logo to be invisible on business cards. Get people to instantly connect with you, wherever they find you.
For example, by using the image of a strong business woman at the top of their website, Douma Leadership quickly established their brand in the women leadership niche.
Keep in mind that graphics are also images you can use, offering a great way to subtly incorporate your brand’s elements and colors into your web designs. You should add all kinds of visual content to your site, helping people connect with your brand immediately.
Remember, too, that any images you use on your website can also be used on social media. The best images for web content usually also work well on multiple platforms.
All of this doesn’t mean good written content isn’t important on your website either. It simply means that great images have an immediate and lasting impact, which brings us to the final reason to use them in your web designs.
3. Images Keep Users Engaged
Humans are visual creatures. We love to see beautiful and interesting things. This is especially true for the 65% of the population who are visual learners.
For example, by adding an image, our client Magic Home Staging allows users to continue reading their list of design ideas.
Adding the right photos to your site is one of the easiest things you can do to captivate your audience. In fact, at least 38% of users will only stop interacting with a site if it has an unattractive layout.
On the other hand, a BuzzSumo study found that articles that used images once every 75-100 words received twice as many social media shares as articles with fewer images.
Couple this with the fact that people are busy, and they tend to scan through websites. Breaking your text into shorter paragraphs, and interspersed with attractive photos and infographics, can help make your website more accessible and user-friendly.
Ultimately, images make your site more engaging and visually appealing, which means users will be more likely to spend time on your website and remember you.
As a final note, Google pays attention to how long people engage with a website, and they value engaging content. So when you use images to keep people on your website longer, you will also improve your SEO.
It’s a simple equation: the more time people spend on your website, the more likely they are to convert into leads or sales.
So… do your website visitors like what they see when they arrive at your site, or do they leave after a few seconds?
Do they choose to buy something from you, or leave their cart before making a purchase?
Statistics show that the average web user only spends a few seconds on a website before they decide whether to stay or leave. That means you don’t have much time to make a good first impression.
How To Use Photos On Your Website
Your website will only reap the benefits of images if you use them properly. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when using photos and graphics in web design:
? Keep your photos relevant. They must match the text they are illustrating. And take advantage of captions when you add photos to blog posts.
? Try to keep the image file size small. Slow load times can have a negative impact on your SEO and user engagement. Images take longer to download than text, so too many large images can slow down your site (especially on mobile). This means you have to compress your images, which you can do in Adobe Photoshop or with an online image compressor.
? Label your images properly with search engine optimized keywords and phrases. Filenames and tags on your images should be done with SEO in mind.
? Don’t go overboard with graphics. Cheap and poorly made graphics can look like advertisements, which people tend to overlook.
? Use images with as many real people as possible, as this can help users feel more connected to your site.
? Encourage users to share photos on their own social platforms.
? Use only your own images, or images that you have purchased and are entitled to use. Provide attribution if necessary.
As much as possible, we recommend using your own photos that you have taken professionally.
However, depending on your budget, this may not always be possible. In this case, you will have to go back to stock photos, but use them wisely. Try to choose photos that are not too staged or unrealistic.
For paid stock images, we like to use DepositPhotos.com. You can also find a wide variety of beautiful free photos on Unsplash which are free to use, without attribution or permission, for all commercial and non-commercial purposes.
When used properly, photos are one of the best ways to enhance your website. But used incorrectly, they easily mess up your design and slow down your site. This is especially true if you are not familiar with proper web design best practices.
My team helps small online businesses with website design, along with branding, SEO and digital marketing. And we are experts at finding the right image.
Chat with us today to get started with a professional brand that represents your next venture to get the leads and sales you want.
For your business success,