What Makes a Great Website?
There are many factors on the front and the back end that really MAKE a website.
Speed, SEO, functionality, responsive design, and easy navigation are all incredibly important, but these things won’t be the things that are noticed first. It’s like baking a pie- every ingredient is just as critical as the others. It’s the winning combination of the ingredients and process that makes the perfect pie.
However- if that pie comes out of the oven looking unappetizing, no matter how delicious it is, no one is going to want to give it a chance.
The aesthetic component of your site exists to show people that your goods and services are a tasty treat. You want to inspire with your images and draw in the crowd.
How do you know what pictures are the RIGHT pictures for your site?
Using Your Own Photos for Your Site
Ideally, the images that you use on much of your site are your own. Customers like to get to know the people they are doing business with. If you can afford it, always use a professional photographer- especially one who is familiar with what works well online.
If you have access to a good camera and are willing to go this route yourself, these are some things you should keep in mind:
Don’t just point and shoot. Think about what you want the photo to convey to your potential customers. Make it interesting. Sometimes just a little creative cropping can turn a basic photo into something memorable.
The composition of your shot might be lovely, but what is it going to look like on a larger screen? You want to ensure your photo looks beautiful no matter what size it is. Just as a quick crop can make an image pop, filters often take a regular everyday image from zero to hero.
Stock Photos for Your Site
Many companies use stock photos for their website, especially for their main images, when they don’t have the budget to hire a professional photographer. These are images that can be obtained for a fee. Depending on the service, there may or may not be licensing fees, royalties, or restrictions on use.
The problem with stock photography is that many of the images are meant to be rather bland and basic, in order to “fit” many different uses- the more the photo is purchased, the more money is to be made. It’ll take some work weeding through available photos in order to find the right one.
You want to make sure that your photos support your brand and storytelling. Don’t just grab a pretty picture- find the one that communicates your company message to your potential clients.
Beware Free Images for Commercial Use
There are many websites on the Internet claiming to have access to “free” images for commercial use. If you are thinking about putting free images found on the web on your company website- don’t. It’s too hard to tell where these images originally came from. They could have been stolen from the original artist or are being sold without their permission. Once you use these images on your site, you could later find yourself in legal trouble.
It’s not worth the hassle. If you want to use stock images, find a reputable company and pay for them so everyone wins.
The Right Images Tell Your Story
Ultimately, the images that you choose to use on your website are there to draw in customers and support your branding. You want to put your best foot forward and you can do so with pictures.