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Online Marketing Program: 1.1.4 Images

September 12, 2011 by · 3 Comments
Filed under: SEO 

Not all images are created equal.

The right image on a web page can capture attention, inform, and even persuade your site visitors to convert to become more than a lead….to become a client or customer.

The right image can communicate who you and your company are more quickly and powerfully than words alone can do.

The wrong image, however, can confuse, annoy, and even repel your visitors.

The wrong image can give your audience a negative impression of your product, service, or company that you may never have a chance to correct. You must use the best you can afford to use to make this conversion.

Using images in your website can be tricky.

Images can brighten your website or destroy it completely. Many people are skeptical about using images because of SEO and bandwidth issues. In this article, I will explain why the worry is unnecessary if images are used correctly and intelligently.

Pay particular attention to the effectiveness of photography when testing with users. Regardless of the context, users rarely fail to comment on or be influenced by photography when shopping online.

Educate and Inform –

“Tell me and I’ll forget, but show me and I’ll remember.” Learning can be difficult, but supporting theory with visual stimuli can help us grasp complex concepts and confirm our understanding. Images are easy to remember; how often have you met a new person and found later that you could recall their face but not their name?

Tell a Story –

From an early age we are told stories, and we spend our lives telling stories to friends and families. We know that pictures are effective storytelling tools. Even in the news media, multimedia slideshows are produced to give life to news stories.

Highlight Innovation –

People have certain expectations of how things should look and function. If you have a product that differs from the norm, expect a large portion of interest to come from word of mouth; friends will show it to friends, who will show it to their friends, and so on.

Evoke an Emotional Response –

Photography is often used to communicate hard-hitting messages (about the environment or human suffering, for example) because it evokes strong emotions. Charity campaigns, for example, know that by photography can get them the type of reaction they want.

Sell a Lifestyle –

Whether it’s rural life, the good life or city living, everyone strives to live what they believe to be their perfect lifestyle, and we buy things that match that lifestyle. So, when products are displayed in the context of a lifestyle, we assign value to the product based on our desires.

Conclusion –

Photographs play a crucial role in informing, influencing, educating and reassuring customers throughout the buying process. Review your website’s photography and question its role. What is the job of a particular photo at that particular stage of the process? Is it effective? When might customers drop out, and how could photos prevent that from happening?

The task of image selection often falls to the designer. User experience professionals should actively influence the process of selecting photos for the buying process.

The days of having a placeholder for images in our wireframes and prototypes are over. We should be annotating our work to influence decisions that art directors make when selecting images. Consider these principles to ensure that the images you choose not only “look right” but also work well.

Website owners should recall the principles mentioned in this article when commissioning new photos and researching stock. Focus on the purpose of the images, and you will turn photos from window dressing into key conversion tools.

Appropriateness

A good image captures attention, conveys emotion and tells a story. An image can make a webpage really effective not only because of its quality as mentioned, but also how well it fits into the context of the page. For example, it would not be appropriate to use black and white images if your site is about web hosting. Black and white images might work if you use it in an artistic site.

Technical Issues

There are 3 commonly used image formats in the web today, “Gif”, “Jpeg” and “Png”. As we want the image size to be as small as possible, the choice of using the different formats becomes critical. Gifs are more suitable for images with lesser colours while jpegs are more suitable for images with a great range of colours, for example, real life images. The size of jpeg images can be very small when compressed. Many photo editing software apps now a days have a “save for web” feature which can compress jpegs efficiently.  Gifs on the other hand are very effective
when used as transparent overlays. However, the quality of Gif overlays is not good. Pngs can produce very high quality images or transparent overlays but the tradeoff is their large file size.

Aesthetics

Effective images need to have a focus. Except when striving for a particular effect, fuzzy, vague or blurry pictures look unprofessional. There should also not be too many elements in an image because it distracts the reader from knowing what the image is about.

A balance of contrast and brightness is also important. Contrast is important to make your main character in the image stand out. For example, if you have a lady in green standing in front of a forest, the lady will not stand out because of the green. If you are using a black and white image, not enough contrast makes the entire image seem gray and washed out. The image should also not look too dark nor too bright, regardless of the subject matter.

Occasionally, you might wish to intentionally add a special effect on your image to create a dramatic effect. Silhouetting an image can achieve eye-popping results for a minimum amount of time and money. Ready-made filters and special add-on modules produce startling effect at a touch of a button. Shadows and gradients can give an image, button or icon a 3d effect which often makes it stand out prominently in your site. Using special effects can be tricky because your image will cease to be special if the effect is used too frequently. One typical example is the use of shadows and gradients. Many websites are using it so much so that the readers are focusing more on the graphics rather than the content. You need to save your best tricks for occasions that warrant them. In the worst scenario, people might be pissed off because of the images used in your website.

Cropping is one of the most powerful tool for improving the quality and impact of images. Cropping an image trims away unwanted elements and let you present the reader with only the most important part of the image. A good crop heightens the message, impact, and attractiveness of any image.

Lines of Action

Each image has its own internal geometry which can influence the look and feel of a webpage. Imagine every image you use is telling a story. Like arrows, images can lead your reader where to focus in your page. For example, if a person in the image is looking or gesturing in a certain direction, the reader’s eyes will want to follow that gesture. People are very used to horizontal and vertical lines. Unless your site about design or creativity, you want the lines of action in your images to be horizontal or vertical as well. For example if you have straight objects like flag poles or tall buildings in your image, you want to make sure that they are aligned.

Layout

Placing images in different areas of your website can have different effect on the reader. Dominant images tell readers where to look at first and there should only be one dominant image in every page. All images used in a page need to spread out in a balanced way and be placed near to its relevant content. The spacing around each images is important. Like words, images need to breath as well. Too many images cluttering together can have an adverse effect on the reader. Running several images with a common theme close to each other, and with sufficient space can impart a sense of movement and guide the reader’s eye to read the content.

Conclusion

An image can convey a lot more to the reader than a full page of text and is paramount if you want to the reader to believe in you. However, you have to be very careful of the image size and format to use, i.e. “Gif”, “Jpeg” or “Png”. Big image size over 50k can piss off dialup users easily. Page elements that draw the most attention also repel the most attention if used inappropriately.

And yes, we are continuing  our new Online Marketing Strategy Program…so welcome and today we looked at images and how they can affect your strategy, eh!

OMG – Image Use is Awful:

[http://www.gmlc-mcrn.org.uk/index.php?id=6]

[http://lbrandy.com/blog/2008/10/my-first-and-last-webcomic/]

[http://www.useit.com/alertbox/photo-content.html]

 

YES – Great Image Use:

[http://www.mathieuclauss.com]

[http://www.seobook.com/blog]

[http://www.polargold.de/]

 

Resources & Testing URLS -

[http://www.goodsignal.com/3-mistakes-to-avoid-with-website-images/]

[http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/06/25/how-to-use-photos-to-sell-more-online/]

[http://www.myapheus.com/escape-from-bad-web-design/]

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  1. Zoomit.ca says:

    Online Marketing Program: 1.1.4 Images…

    Not all images are created equal. The right image on a web page can capture attention, inform, and even persuade your site visitors to convert to become more than a lead….to become a client or customer. The right image can communicate who you and your …

  2. olddogg.com says:

    Online Marketing Program: 1.1.4 Images…

    Not all images are created equal. The right image on a web page can capture attention, inform, and even persuade your site visitors to convert to become more than a lead….to become a client or customer. The right image can communicate who you and your …

  3. BizSugar.com says:

    Online Marketing Program: 1.1.4 Images…

    Not all images are created equal. The right image on a web page can capture attention, inform, and even persuade your site visitors to convert to become more than a lead….to become a client or customer. The right image can communicate who you and your …