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The importance of good images

What makes a great looking website? Of course, a well-balanced selection of fonts, copy and colours can work wonders but when it comes to first impressions (which count now more than ever) a websites biggest draw is the images that are used.

We are entering a new dynamic era around image use and creation. A space where time-poor, on the move consumers need to make quick but informed decisions online about products and services. (Studies say you’ve got about 50 milliseconds before they make this decision!) So what helps people make choices? Pricing is the first thing that comes to mind. If you’re cheaper than your competitors then you’re in with a chance of winning more customers. No brainer right? Increasingly however we’re seeing people make decisions based on how a brand makes them feel – gut instinct. And nothing helps portray a feeling quite like a great image. Images affect the relationships we have, the food we eat and the clothes we wear. They impact our decision making around things that are not visually tangible – the bank we use, the insurance company we select and the music we listen to.

Our brain can interpret images much quicker than text which is why images can communicate a product, service or brand instantly. Additionally, images give depth and context to a description or story and provide a much more immersive experience than writing alone. It’s why your website needs good images.

The Good

Brain waves

Cool office hipsters

Colour run ink splash

Silver Lining Cloud Solutions

Yay. Yellow glasses

Hipster gear

Don't be afraid to be different. In a competitive space it can be a great way to stand out from the crowd!

The right image carries an important message; it should capture a visitor’s attention, inform them and engage enough to help convert them into a valuable paying customer. As consumers seek more authentic, trust worthy online sources we recommend steering clear of generic stock photography, instead sourcing images that, for want of a better description, have personality and look real.

The Bad

These are big buildings

Yay, thumbs

Technology generic

Salad isn't funny

Alien corn

Poor stock

Generic buildings, poor mockups and cheesy, staged photography doesn't engage visitors. And salads aren't funny!

The wrong image can destroy a site by confusing or cheapening your offering, affecting a visitors trust and in turn forcing them off the site. Images that are generic, impersonal and have no sense of realism will present your business in the same way – generic, impersonal and untrustworthy. It’s what marketing strategist David Meerman Scott refers to as “visual gobbledygook,” and it’s why he often recommends using images of real people in real, relatable situation on your website and in your marketing assets instead.

In short, by presenting images that truly reflect your organisation/brand in an engaging, authentic way, you’ll be giving your business the best chance of online success.

At Start Digital, we believe authentic images are the best way to go. However, it’s not uncommon for us to leverage stock images for clients and ourselves. Some of our favourite stock image sites (free and paid) include:

Check out a list of the 15 best stock image sites that we’re currently using!