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How to Choose the Right Images for Your Website

The images you choose can make or break your website.

Images are an essential part of any website. The simple fact of the matter is that, if people are given the option, most would much rather look at an image than read a paragraph. Images also help to grab the attention of your audience, and they can trigger their emotions, creating more meaningful and memorable connections. In short, images create an atmosphere for your website.

There’s no denying that images are important, but just as important is using them correctly. Just as using the right images can increase the amount of time people spend on your website or how many conversions you get, using the wrong images can have just as much of a negative impact on your website.

Finding the right kind of images is an essential piece of the web design puzzle, and there are a few basic rules to keep in mind when choosing images for your website.

7 rules for choosing the best images

Rule #1. Don’t overuse stock photos

Stock photos can be a great option for many businesses that don’t have the time or the resources to handle their own photography (or to hire a professional photographer, which could get pricey), but it’s important not to overuse them. In fact, as a general rule, you should only use them when you have to.

While your team may not be as polished or have as big of smiles as the models in stock photos, your customers want to see their real faces! Overusing cheesy stock photos can come across as lazy, and they can easily make a site look outdated.

When you do have a need to use a stock photo, try to find an option that looks less dated and cheesy as your traditional stock photo.

Rule #2. Choose images that feature people

It will probably come to no surprise to learn that people connect the most with images that feature other people, which makes using images that feature people a no brainer for web designers and marketers.

This rule is one that you should follow no matter what kind of business you are in. Of course, when you run a salon or a massage therapy clinic, it’s easy to feature people in your images, but it can be challenging when you work in a more technical field, like computer repair or plumbing.

Rule #3. Use images that evoke emotion

One of the biggest reasons to use images on your website is that they help you to connect with your audience, and you can get even more out of that connection if you choose images that evoke an emotional response.

Emotion is what ultimately drives most of the decisions people make, whether it’s choosing a partner to spend your life with or making a purchase online. It’s only later when the logic comes into play, and understanding that is a key part of finding the right images to feature on your website.

When choosing images, think about what emotions they may evoke in your audience. For example, a law firm wouldn’t want to use an image of an older couple relaxing on the beach, but that might be the perfect image to use for a physical therapy clinic or a supplement supplier. A law firm would do better by using an image that conveys strength and experience.

Rule #4. Choose high-quality images

You should never skimp on the quality of your images. In fact, as a rule of thumb, you should always use the highest quality option available to you. You never want to make your audience have to resize an image or squint at their screen in order to see it.

When you’re looking for images to include on your website, look for high-resolution images with large pixels. Keep in mind that resizing an image can change its quality, and if you need to adjust the size, you’ll be better off keeping the existing dimensions and simply cropping the image. When you increase an image past its original size, you’re bound to experience quality issues.

The bottom line is that if you’ve found that your images are a bit blurry, too small, or just aren’t relevant to the content, it’s time to return to the drawing board.

Rule #5. Hire a photographer if possible

We’ve learned so far that people like to view pictures of other people, they can spot a cheesy stock image from a mile away, and quality is essential, and what all of this boils down to is that you need to find a way to produce your own original high-quality photos, and there’s no better way to do than to hire a photographer.

Hiring a photographer probably isn’t at the top of your to-do list, and it’s probably not the most pressing thing in your budget, but if it’s a possibility, it might be worth it to consider it. Images can make such a huge difference for your website, and having your own professional images will mean that your website will be unique from the many others out there that feature stock footage.

Rule #6. Choose images that support your message and goal

While yes, images can do wonders for your website’s conversion rates, they won’t get you very far if you fill in a bunch of random images just for the sake of having them there. To get the most out of the images on your website, you need to choose images that support the message of your content as well as the goals of your website.

When determining which images to choose for your website, it’s always important to think about the message you are trying to send and the end goals you have in mind. For example, if the goal is to sell a product, images with happy customers and testimonials can go a long way toward helping you reach that goal.

Rule #7. Always check the licensing before using an image

One of the most important things to know when choosing images for your website is that you can’t just take images from a Google image search or from someone else’s website. Not only does this do a major disservice to the photographer who captured the image, but it could also land you with a lawsuit. This is a mistake that can be incredibly expensive to bounce back from.

Looking for royalty-free images is a great way to stay out of hot water — as is hiring your own photographer if you have the budget for it. When you purchase royalty-free images to use on your website, it’s important to note that what you’re purchasing is not the image itself but the right to use the image in a certain way.

When it comes to DIY website design, almost nothing is as important as choosing the right images!

Originally published on 1/13/20