May 19, 2010

Improve Your Website in 5 Easy Steps: Step 1, Photography

Photos can play an important role in delivering your website’s message, whether you are trying to persuade the visitor to buy your products or services, or simply trying to educate them on important information. By using photos thoughtfully, you can support the text on your page and deliver a stronger message.

Using photos to tell your story

There is a reason why people say “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Sometimes a photo can convey a message faster than text. This is important for websites, because you only have a few seconds to convince online visitors to stay and browse your website more. The faster you can present your information, the better!

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Can you guess what this website is for without being able to read it?

Take a look at the image above. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it’s apparent from the main photograph that this is a website about education. The photo of three people studying in a library delivers that message before you even have a chance to read about the university. And since the subjects in the photo represent their target demographic (young adults), the photo also immediately reassures the visitor that they would be welcome at the university, and would fit in with the rest of the students.

Here is another example of using photography on a website:

moo

Moo uses photos to explain what they do

MOO is a printing company that prints your photos on different types of cards. On their about us page, they chose to explain what they do with a small graphic: Your photos + our company = a stack of custom printed cards with your photos. It’s a simple way to explain their business, and much more memorable than a few paragraphs of text that explains the same message.

Using photos to grab attention

Photos are great tool for grabbing a visitor’s attention. You can place photos on your website near important information and links to draw their attention to that area. If it’s an interesting photo, that will make the visitor want to read more.

The CNN.com website uses photos to highlight featured articles

The CNN.com website uses photos to highlight featured articles

The new CNN.com website uses images to highlight important stories on their homepage. You can see how the stories with photographs catch your attention more than the links without images — simply because the photos are visually more interesting than paragraphs of text.

Using photos to break up text

It’s no secret that visitors want to read less online. Articles based on “Top 10 lists” are becoming increasingly popular, and some even choose to get news in a format that limits text to 140 characters. People browse websites quickly, and generally don’t want to spend a lot of time reading long passages of text.

The Nook product page on www.barnesandnoble.com

The Nook product page on www.barnesandnoble.com

So what do you do when you have a lot of information that you want to present?

You can make a long article look less daunting by adding photos throughout the page. The photos help divide the text into smaller pieces of information, which makes the page look less time-consuming to read.

Barnes & Noble uses photography to spice up the product page for their new e-Reader, the Nook. There is actually quite a bit of text on this page (over 450 words), but instead of listing all the features in one long article, they divide it up in smaller sections with product photos. By breaking up their information this way, it looks like there is less text on the page, which means it looks easier to read. The photos also help to illustrate each of their features, which make a more memorable and attractive features page.

Using photos in your own website!

So if you have a photo-less website, now is the time to change that! Whether you have a website for your service business or trying to sell products online, using photography will create a more pleasant experience, and will encourage your visitors to spend more time on your website.

2 thoughts on “Improve Your Website in 5 Easy Steps: Step 1, Photography”

  1. T.W.

    I have read a few articles regarding using people in photographs vs using inanimate objects, and which is more effective. What do you think?

    1. Christie Heikkinen

      Using photos of people will grab more attention, because our eyes are attracted to human faces. There are even studies that show that using photos of people (instead of illustrations or icons) will increase your conversion rate!

      The internet is a very impersonal place, but including a photo of a human being on your website can help. It ‘s easier to create a connection and establish trust with a friendly face than with an image of a briefcase (or any other object), and that is why photos of people can be more effective.

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