Whether you are creating a professional website, an online resume, a business homepage, or an online magazine, choosing the right images is crucial for effectively conveying your message. By nature, humans gravitate to pictures before words. When you upload an image, it will make an impact, whether consciously or unconsciously. Images can create brand awareness, and really set the tone for your reader’s user experience when they visit your site.
Temporary versus Permanent
You will want to consider permanence when choosing your images. Each image will have a different purpose, and images that accompany articles serve a much different purpose than images that will be a permanent fixture on your site. For example, article images that have lots of action can be useful for grabbing reader attention. However, for your primary page’s permanent images, you want to find a balance between too much action and stagnancy. An image that will stay on your site permanently and prominently should be less “loud” than a temporary image, so the picture does not distract from the text on your page or make your user interface too busy.
There are many design elements to consider when choosing the right image for your site. Design is all about where the viewer’s eye will go, a vital part of web design in particular. For example, knowing where the frame, vantage point, and eye line will be in your final edited image will help you select the proper picture.
Once chosen, you can keep those design aspects in mind as you crop and correct the image. It will also help your design if you are able to balance various images and colors with each other by direction and how the subjects of the images are placed. For example, if there is an object in your image, like a skier, and they are facing and pointing left, you may want to choose another image later that is centered or facing right to bring the focus back to the middle of the screen. Too many images with asymmetrical elements on the left will make the site feel unbalanced, or like there is a big gap on the right side.
The color scheme of your website is also very important to consider when choosing your image. If you have the complimentary colors orange and blue throughout your site, it is appropriate to choose an image that has coordinating colors in that scheme. On the other hand, if your brand has all blue and cool tones, you will likely not want to choose a tone with orange to be a permanent fixture on your homepage, but you might want to add an image with orange to catch a viewer’s eye when announcing a contest or discount.
You should also consider emotional and social connotations that the images might convey for your viewers. If you work with preconceived cultural beliefs, instead of against them, it will work in your favor. Some images invoke very strong reactions for people, which may be what you are looking for. Knowing what assumptions your target audience will have when visiting your site will help you tailor your primary images to their needs. Remember, depending on your brand, choosing something that is culturally and politically neutral might be the best option.
Keeping these important factors in mind will help you make your site more successful. The wrong images will leave your readers feeling dissatisfied. The right image carries meaning for the user’s experience when they are interacting with your website, make them feel comfortable, and give them a sense of your brand, product, or service. A well-chosen image will also help your readers remember your page in future web searches. The right image choices will keep your readers coming back for more.
Jonathan Martin is a Seattle magento developer, who encourages his clients to think critically about the images that they use on their websites, not just from an aesthetic perspective, but form a function and design perspective as well.