We’ve written before about the importance of small business website design and GP surgery website design. They’re your shopfront and need to look their best. Outside of the actual layout and design of the website one of the most important aspects in creating a website is the imagery on it. Website photography plays a critical role in how users feel about the website they’re visiting.
Everyone knows that a picture paints a thousand words. They’re a great way of expressing emotions and telling stories. When it comes to delivering information in a clear and concise way it’s important to remember that website photography isn’t the be all and end all.
Imagery needs to be used to enhance the overall user experience, not take away from it. Obviously pages need to have visual interest, but don’t let it detract from the information your customers are there to find. Use images to work alongside text and draw users to it.
Another BIG reason not to go overboard with the website photography is page bloat. Pictures are massive in comparison to text. Having loads of big images is a surefire way to increase load time, and ultimately frustrate your user. There are ways to compensate for this by appropriately optimising your images for the web. But ultimately the best way to avoid having pages bogged down by large image files is to simply use images only when they’re needed.
A website that is simply full of images and photographs and lacks real, relevant content is not going to appeal to a user. That’s the last thing you want to achieve with your website.
As a designer this is one of those issues I find myself stressing to clients on an almost daily basis. A bad photo can ruin a design. A ruined design is not an effective design.
Although camera technology has come a huge way in the past few years, to the point where your phone camera can do an incredibly competent job for most things, there is no substitute for professional knowledge and experience.
There is so much more to taking a good photograph that there isn’t time to go into it here, but there are many people that have covered the topic in the past:
To give you an example of the difference between amateur and professional photographs within one of our own projects here are the original images that The Olive Grove had to use on their website and marketing before we took over their design work.
Now let’s compare them to some professionally taken photographs.
You can clearly see the difference in quality here. And as much as some of the amateur photographs are somewhat pleasing to the eye, they’re nowhere near of the quality of the professional ones. Which would you want for your website photography?
There is an exception to this in my opinion though.
If you updating a blog for you website about current news and events that have taken place at your business, personal photos taken from your phone of this event can work brilliantly. It’s easy to take them, and adds a personal touch to this aspect of the website.
When it comes to professional website photography you have two options. You can hire a professional photographer to come and photograph your products/premises/services. Or you can use stock photography.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both, but both definitely have their place. It depends on what sort of business you’re in.
Anything that is bespoke or custom is going to be preferable in almost any situation. You have the knowledge that what you’re being provided with is one of a kind and is tailored to your situation perfectly. This is true of hiring a professional photographer for your website photography.
Professional photos of your actual premises, products and staff provide a user with a more personal connection to your company. A user that feels more connected to your business is more likely to become a customer.
Another advantage of hiring a professional photographer is that they can work directly alongside your web design agency. A designer may have a specific idea in mind as to exactly what photo will work in a set location within the design. A photographer than deliver this exact image to them.
By having website photography briefed by the designer in charge of the website will lead to a much more cohesive, flowing, and powerful design.
Many professionals believe stock photos to be the work of the devil, and to be avoided at all costs. Whilst there are some obvious pitfalls of stock photos they also have some advantages that make them a great option.
The large majority of stock photos are taken by professional photographers and are composed and edited brilliantly. This means that your website will have professional quality photographs, which will give a great impression.
Providing you avoid the overused cliche options available, there is a lot of variety within the stock photo archives for you to achieve the desired look. I would always recommend using stock photography over poorly taken amateur photos when it comes to your website.
Under no circumstance ever underestimate the power of photography. Especially after spending time and money on a brand new website design, make sure that your website photography is up to scratch.
Poor quality photography will scream ‘poor quality organisation’. And while that more than likely isn’t true, it is the perception your website visitors will have. If you have a business that requires you to have images of your premises then hiring a professional photographer is imperative. If you don’t require this, then make use of stock libraries as a cost effective solution.
If you don’t think your current website photography is doing your business justice then please get in touch to see how we can help your website shine.