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How to choose the best images for your website to make a powerful first impression (and where to find them)

30 April 2023

The images you use on your website might be more important than you imagine. 

Used effectively, they can create a powerful first impression and ultimately mean that your business can gain more traffic and more conversions, resulting in more sales or enquiries.

Sounds good, right? 

Why is this?

This is because, according to John Medina from the University of Washington when people read information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

I’m sure that at some point in the not-too-distant past, you have clicked on a website and found blurry images, images that take too long to load or it’s full of images that seem as though they have no relevance to the written information. 

Consequently, it’s likely you’ll make some judgements about that business.  

  • They are not professional 
  • They are not experienced enough 
  • It’s not worth waiting that long
  • It’s confusing

You may not consciously be making these judgments but there is a fair chance that they will make you click off this website and move to the next. 

Using effective images on a website not only attracts the visitor’s attention, they also help draw people further into the site, meaning they are more likely to read and click through to other pages. 

And that’s a great signal to the search engines that your content is engaging, and so they’ll send you more traffic. 

The good news is that with a little knowledge and planning you can create a strong narrative and visual impact from the first click on your website. 

So let’s find out what makes a good image for your website and where you can find them. 

How To Choose Your Website Images

1. Professional Images 

A high-quality image brings your service or product to life. It’s one thing to have well-written content but according to Adobe 67% of people consider the quality of a website’s images to be an important factor when they are deciding whether to purchase. 

Most of us, consciously or not, make snap decisions based on the visual quality of a website, and the images play a key part in that.

Good quality images (rather than snapshots) have a much greater visual appeal to your website visitors. 

2. Personal Images  

Whilst using good quality website images is vital, it’s also important to tell a visual story. 

Having professional images that are unique to you will help you stand apart from other businesses. 

It’s a well-known fact that people like to do business with people they like and trust. 

Images from a personal photoshoot give an authentic visual representation of you and your brand – it’s a chance for your website visitor to see the person behind the business rather than just generic stock images. 

If your budget allows, it’s worth considering hiring a professional photographer to take original images for your website. A good photographer will be able to help you create the story that you want your website to portray.  

Although there is a financial investment in creating these images in my opinion they will quickly pay for themselves by increasing engagement on your website. 

3. Relevant Images 

Make sure that the images you choose for your website and blog are relevant to what is written, whether you are using stock images or your own professional images. 

It is confusing to a website visitor to see images on a page that hold very little relevance to the content. 

For example: using images of teenagers in a blog post about the benefits of yoga for the over-fifties – it doesn’t make sense and creates visual confusion.

It makes it harder for a visitor to understand your website’s purpose, often resulting in lower engagement and potentially driving potential clients away from the website.

4. Branding Images  

Your business branding can have a significant impact on the images you choose for your website. The images/graphics on your website should be consistent with your brand’s overall visual identity, including the

  • Colour scheme
  • Typography 
  • Brand vibe

Example: if your brand has a modern and minimalist aesthetic, your website images should reflect that with clean lines, simple compositions, and a neutral colour palette. On the other hand, if your brand has a bold and colourful identity, your website images should be vibrant and dynamic, with bright colours and strong contrasts.

Your images should align with your brand’s messaging and values. If your brand emphasises sustainability and eco-friendliness, for instance, gas-guzzling cars aren’t going to be a great image to showcase on your site. 

Overall, your website images should complement and reinforce your brand identity to create a cohesive and memorable user experience for your potential clients.

5. Size and Position of Images  

Orientation 

You’ll often find that landscape images work better on your website than portrait images. Full-width images on your site will nearly always need to be landscape, and you may also need to crop them to make them shallower so they become more of a letterbox format (long and shallow)

Hero images

A lot of websites have full-width header images at the top of the site to give a strong visual impact when people first land on the site. 

Those images will usually need to be at least 2000px wide in order to not look pixelated when they stretch full width. 

Keep that in mind when you’re choosing your image, and if you’re going to place text over the top, consider an image that isn’t too busy otherwise it will be hard to read the words. Often we place an overlay or a gradient over the top of an image to make the text easier to read. Or you could blank out an entire side of a full-width header to leave space for text. 

I blanked out the whole of one side of this image: 

Resolution

Images for your website do not need to be high resolution. If you are using images for print, they need to have a high dpi (dot per inch) value, usually 300dpi or higher to ensure that they don’t appear pixelated when printed.

Images on a screen only need to be 72dpi or 144dpi for retina screens. Be sure to reduce the resolution of images before uploading them to your site because using hi-resolution images will create larger file sizes than necessary and mean that you’ll ultimately slow the page load speed of your site and eventually may max out your website hosting space and have to upgrade.

Stock Images

If your budget doesn’t stretch to an entire website of professionally shot images, stock images are a great alternative. 

What Are Stock Images?

Stock imagery refers to images that you can use for free or purchase for a fee. 

I have a blog post which lists out places that you can free stock images

Once you’ve sourced your images, you can then use them for all of your marketing, including on your website.

Having said that be sure to read the licenses of each image; some websites may permit you to use the images for personal use but not for business purposes.

Pros: 

There is no doubt that using stock images can be a cost-effective way of choosing imagery for your website. Stock image websites tend to have a huge selection of images, with a search function making it fairly quick and easy to find something suitable. 

Cons: 

The most obvious problem is the lack of originality. Yes, it can be cost-effective but you do run the risk of seeing the same image elsewhere. 

The other problem can be that a lot of stock images can be rather cliched, staged, or bland and may not lend themselves to your brand which can inadvertently lead to you devaluing your brand.

Where To Find Stock Images

There are many stock photograph websites that offer high-quality images for a fee, such as: 

  • Shutterstock
  • iStock
  • Getty Images

I love Haute Stock as their images fit well with my brand vibe. I pay a subscription, but they also have great social media templates and tutorials. 

There are also many websites that offer free images that can be used on your website, such as:

  • Unsplash 
  • Pixabay 
  • Pexels

You can find more sources of royalty-free images on blog post to help you find free stock images

It’s important to ensure that the images you use are legally allowed. Avoid using copyrighted images without permission or purchasing the appropriate licenses. (I know of plenty of people who have been fined for copyright infringement for using images they don’t have permission to use, so read the image license carefully). 

In Summary

The images you choose for your website can make a huge difference to the first impression you make on visitors to your site potential clients. 

High-resolution images that are relevant to your brand and message can increase engagement, elevate your wow factor and create a cohesive user experience. 

It’s important to consider the purpose of your website, the size and positioning of images, uniqueness, and branding when selecting images. If hiring a professional photographer is not an option, there are many stock photograph websites that offer high-quality images for a fee or free images that you can use within the parameters of their license. 

By taking the time to carefully choose your website images, you can ensure that your website makes a positive and lasting impression on visitors.

Finally, if you found this blog helpful, don’t forget to like and share it with others. 

And if you’re interested in learning more about how to build a gorgeous client-winning website, be sure to subscribe to check out Rock That Website to avoid all the tech meltdowns, and get my 20 years web design and online marketing experience in your pocket. 

Vicky Etherington

Vicky Etherington has been running her own online marketing agency since 2003, and in 2015 transitioned to working with coaches and therapists to teach them how to create their own client-attracting websites. 

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