Why is website photography important to study?
As you are likely aware, your website is the first thing that exposes your online audience to your brand, service and product. This means even the smallest details speak louder than words.
Think of it like this. Your website serves your online presence in the same way a salesperson serves a brick-and-mortar business. When someone in sales is speaking about your product or company, they’re going to use persuasive language and any kind of sales ploy available to them. A good salesperson uses even aspects of their own personality and appearance to make sales.
Your website must do the same in order to convert to sales.
Whether you use a lot of it or very little, photography is at the very heart of your website design. While it is true that an image says more than a thousand words, it’s also true that your unless your image evokes the emotions you are trying to convey, you can tell your consumer a thousand times to move away from your website as quickly as possible.
In order to avoid that catastrophe, we’ve compiled some of the most important tips to keep in mind when choosing your website’s photography:
1. Lighting - The ultimate tool in a photographer’s handbook, take a Google search through some of the most famous photographs in the world and notice the incredible part light plays. The lack of lighting (or the minimal, intentional, focused use of it) can create a dark, emotive look that evokes melancholy emotions. The surplus of lighting, on the flip side, with its extra whiteness, can evoke feelings of cleanliness, optimism and possibility. The latter is often used in branding and website design for the seamless, professional appearance it conveys. The former is often used in services or products that feed off of the highly potent emotions of people such as in the industries of music and fine arts.
2. High-resolution isn’t just a suggestion - There’s no excuse for having blurry photos in website design because even smart phones can take great photos now. However, if you’re taking special photography for your website, whether it’s head shots of your teammates, people modeling your clothes or products, or artistic photography for website building, hire a professional to take the photos with a real, grown-up camera. If you find yourself in need of a constant photographer to shoot things like a developing or new product line, you should consider investing in a good-quality camera and taking the photos yourself (or having a team member do so). There are plenty of excellent tutorials available online, so there’s no need to take a professional photography class unless you want to get exceptionally good. We also have written an ebook and a number of blogs on just that topic.
3. Perfection is in the details - The most unprofessional thing you can possibly do in your photography is shoot high-resolution images of your products without fully preparing them. If you are shooting food, present like you’re impressing the queen of England. Remove splatters and arrange in an aesthetically-pleasing style. Choose colors that work well together, regardless of the product you’re photographing. Lint-roll and steam clothes. Wipe off fingerprints. Dust. Polish. Shine. No matter what you’re shooting, when using a high-definition camera, perfection matters.
4. Think about final applications of the photo - If your site features full-width large scale banners, you will probably want horizontally formatted photographs. This can void the need to crop out important details because of format necessity. Sometimes one single, well-formatted, horizontal photograph on your landing page will say everything you need to convey. Other times you’ll probably need little thumbnails of your product options formatted perfectly. If you don’t have the skill set or patience to update your website in proper format, outsource to someone who does.
5. Be consistent - It’s not a bad idea to use a template so your products are always shot at the same angles. People like consistency because it helps them to feel like they can rely on your brand. We see this in all areas of business, from designing website copy to customer service to launching new products. Consistency remains so important that even the photography showcasing your products should be consistent. Camera angles, lighting, cropping and zoom size should all be consistent. Anything else speaks of unreliability and tells your potential customers to pass you by and head to Amazon.
6. Are you just doing product photography and forgetting about lifestyle photography? - People like to see products in real world applications. For instance, the conversion rates for clothing laid out or even on mannequins is significantly lower than the conversion rate for clothing on models. If your product is more of a technological product, photographs of people using it appeal to your consumer as they imagine themselves using it in a similar way. Studies show that when people see photographs of the physical body on websites - even it’s just feet crunching snow in boots or a hand fingering a wedding ring - conversion rates go up because the audience has resonated with the human in the photograph, and thus, are able to imagine themselves with the product.
7. Keep it fresh - Shoot, edit, upload. Repeat. Regardless of whether it’s you with the camera, a team member or an outsourced professional, it’s critically important to create time for photography. A sure recipe for no online growth is to take photographs, use them to build a website, and then not touch it again for five years. Continually update content. Keep it fresh and engaging, and you’ll retain fresh, engaged consumers.
For a great in-depth read on photography for websites, check out The Web Designer’s blog on Photo Selection.
Here at 10twelve we have a passion for great photography. It's something we work with daily for our own businesses and for our clients, as well as a hobby. Let's discuss your photography needs and how we can help engage your viewers through some great pictures.