Photography is one of the centerpieces of a great website. With the continued popularity of hero images and full-width sliders, a photo is often one of the first things visitors to your site will see. Therefore, it becomes an important element in making a proper first impression.
The trouble is, we often pick photos simply because we like the way they look–and yes, it is a very subjective thing–but it makes sense to go beyond just the pure aesthetics and do some serious thinking about how and why a photo works for your website. After all, your goal should be to do more than please yourself; you need to engage users.
Here are some things to consider when choosing photos for your website. Along with each tip, we’ll share some beautiful examples from Envato Elements. In addition to all of the fantastic items available with your monthly subscription, a library of 250,000+ royalty-free photos has recently been added.
1. A Photo Should Help Define Your Purpose
It’s amazing how often you see an organization use photos that have very little to do with their overall mission. While kittens are indeed adorable, a restaurant’s website probably has no use for a picture of them (unless they’re enjoying a bite to eat).
If your company has a mission statement, think about it each time you consider a photograph. Then, ask yourself if that photo will help a visitor better understand who you are and what you do. If not, keep looking.
2. Consider the Photo’s Orientation
Finding a photo that looks great at full size is one thing, while finding one that still looks great after you crop it is another. For example, if you’re looking to utilize a wide hero image on your website, you’ll want to use a landscape photo; otherwise, cropping may leave out some important details. Conversely, portrait photos are ideal for instances where you want to align an image to the left or right of text. A square image may be a bit more flexible depending on your needs.
The key here is to ensure that a photo, when cropped, will display the details you want within the size you need. So, if the subjects of a photo are smiling children and you want to use it as part of 1200×300 pixel slideshow, you should make sure that the important parts of that image will be displayed.
3. Choose a Complimentary Color Palette
A photo with the right colors can be a great attention-getter. But it can also become a distraction. However, the goals of each website may be different. Some may want an incredibly bold, colorful image that grabs hold of the user. Others could benefit from something a bit more subtle. It depends on your brand and the message you’re trying to get across.
The type of color you’re looking for might also depend on the intended use. If you want to create a large photo background, you’ll want an image that doesn’t take away from the content that sits on top of it.
Tip: One of the cool aspects of Envato Elements is the ability to search for images by color. So, if you’re looking for something with a shade of purple, you’ll have lots of great options.
4. Align With Demographics
Who are the typical visitors to your site? There are a number of ways to break user demographics down: age, gender, level of education and so on. That information is vital to the success of your business and should also be a consideration when choosing photographs.
Look for photos that match the tastes of your target demographic. It sounds easy enough but there is a delicate balance here. You want to appeal to someone without necessarily patronizing them. Avoid stereotypes of all kinds. Use photos that are welcoming, diverse and inclusive. The goal is to appeal to users, not to have them angrily fill out your contact form.
5. Give Yourself Multiple Options
Have you ever grabbed that “perfect” photo, only to find that it just doesn’t work well with the overall look of your website? Sometimes an image looks better on its own and not as part of something bigger. It happens all the time.
For this reason it’s worthwhile giving yourself some options. If you’re working with a client, it becomes even more important to provide choice. While you may feel that a photo is a great fit, others may disagree. Choose three to five photos that you think will work well, implement them and see which one works best. You may even be surprised at which one wins out.
Worth a Thousand Clicks (or More)
The right photos can bring many benefits to your website. They can please the eye, convey ideas and compel users to take action. When making decisions on which photos to use, consider your brand, who your users are and how an image works within your overall design. Focus on what positive traits a photo can bring to your website and don’t be afraid to try multiple options. With so much outstanding photography just a click away, you’re sure to find the right fit.