Website Images Can Make or Break Your Site Design
Feb 12, 2013
While the content and ease of getting around is what's most important to your website's success, of course you still want the look and feel of your online presence to be attractive and professional. All too often it seems like the images on a web page are the last thing people think about when creating a new page or designing a new website. Unfortunately, that "just stick a picture in there of (xxx) and we're done" methodology is more obvious to a visitor to your site than you had imagined, and their first impression of your business may not be as grand as you had hoped for.
Using Clipart Images
Clipart changed the world (for good and bad). Now it's really easy for anyone to find a picture for a web page, blog post or print ad, but the same generic clipart images show up everywhere.
There are billions of free images available out there, but really, maybe 2% of all of it is usable. For example, while your intent was to present your company as a highly distinguished team of professionals, the adjacent image looks like a scene from a 1980 office comedy. Also look out for any images with computers (or any kind of technology) in them. Your business doesn't look very "cutting-edge" when your website images are displaying people sitting in front of CRT monitors.
Take Your Own!
Clipart images are a great solution sometimes, but you could spend hours trying to find the right shot. In less time, you could just take some pictures yourself. On your "Service/Repair" page, show some real images of your repairmen on a job, your vehicle fleet, or even a shot of the service department or front desk. Real images from your company are a tremendous boost for your company's authenticity and trustability - something you can't get enough of on the cold, anonymous world wide web! "Extensive studies" show that people prefer doing business with real people whom they are familiar with, but if you want your establishment to come across completely artifical and impersonal, go ahead and fill your whole site with images of "clipart people."
(Do you really have a garrison of supermodels with headsets waiting to take my call? Apparently, a lot of companies do!)
To create your own website images you don't need a professional photographer or a $2000 lens; the camera on your phone is more than adequate. Actually, even your phone's camera resolution is way more than you need; see how to optimize photos for web use.
Google Images is not free clipart!
Google images is a great source for image ideas, but they're someone else's ideas and even the most mundane images are considered intellectual property and are protected by copyright laws. If you use an image from somewhere else, you are stealing and you can get in trouble. (Likewise if someone uses one of your original images, you can make them remove it.) If you're not sure where an image on your site came from, you may want to replace it with something safe. Some safe resources for images are Clipart.com, where you can pay by the image or for a subscription; or Flickr/creativecommons or Wikimedia Commons, where you can find images that you can use for free under creative commons license.
In summary, your website images are more than just placeholders, and should be given as much consideration as the text around them. Their primary job is to make a great impression - make your page more interesting and compel your visitors to read your text. An unrelated, outdated, poor quality and/or obviously generic picture can make your page, you and your company less enticing than having no images at all!
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