Photography in web design can be easily underestimated, the internet is a visual place – just take social media for example, most platforms are scattered with images because people are visual, we like to see images, they create ‘impact’ and more importantly (from a publishers point of view) images encourage us to read associated text, a sales message or find out more about the business or person.
Websites require a careful balance of text and images to both engage and retain users in just a few seconds so what do your images say about your website? Getting it right is not difficult but getting it wrong is very easy, here are some considerations when deciding on your imagery for a new or existing website:
There are literally millions of stock images available across a variety of sites online, cost depends on the resolution or size of image you require but for standard web page images you can buy stock photos for as little as a few cents, going the stock route can also save time and is advantageous if you have a very limited budget.
There are however some issues with stock images, firstly the images you may intend to purchase will probably have been purchased before by someone else (even hundreds of others) and given the fact that those people may well have chosen for similar reasons to you can be problematic from a perception point of view – if the website visitor you have worked (very) hard to get onto your site recognises images from elsewhere it can have a negative impact. Another thing with stock photography is that some of it can ‘look like’ stock photography, this in itself may not be a negative and will depend on your businesses and aim for authenticity, there are some highly impressive stock images out there, just remember the better the image the more likely it is that it will have been purchased and used before.
Shoot Your Own Images
Handy with a camera or better still own a DSLR or decent bridge/compact camera? There is no reason not to take your own images but there are some things to watch out for.
Back in the early 1990’s when the internet was just pulling away from its infancy mediocre images were ‘ok’, they could pass (just) but nowadays it’s a whole different ball game – quality is key, business is more competitive, cameras are capable of much more and creativity just keeps getting, well, more creative even for standard ecommerce products.
Customers and website visitors expect quality content so the visual aspect of your site needs to be top notch. If you are confident in lighting, composition and nailing image quality then shooting your own material is a viable option and a cost effective route if you own a good camera already or have a regularly changing inventory for example.
Hire a Photographer
There are specific advantages to building a relationship with a local photographer particularly if your aim is to create stunning visual images for your website that are authentic and unique to your brand.
A good photographer can help grow your business through visual website impact, using unique imagery he/she can assist you in rising above your competitors – yes, this will cost more but the value cannot be underestimated. In the modern age of the internet opinions are formed almost instantaneously online so high quality images are crucial – you only have a few seconds to impress website visitors enough to keep them on your site, first impressions have never meant more.
Social media is also incredibly powerful when it comes to sharing images and posts, nobody will share an underexposed blurry image but offer them quality and your ‘post’ could be in front of hundreds, even thousands of others in one simple click.
There are no hard and fast rules with photography in web design, images will clearly depend on your business and requirements as well as the frequency you need to publish fresh content.
Stock images offer a quick fix, get the job done but may be being used by others too.
Taking your own images is certainly a viable option if you are confident with lighting/composition etc.
Professional photography is the more expensive option but will offer higher visual impact, promote branding and encourage visitor retention through a professional ‘feel’ to your website and online presence.