An image is a powerful tool, it can tell a story, share a moment, persuade, entice and inspire. When you open a website, your eye will focus on the image first, if the image is strong then you are more likely to stay on the page for longer. In the world of visually driven commerce, as it is often referred to, images are no longer optional, they are a requirement.
AN IMAGE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Before purchasing anything online, a potential customer likes to feel as though they've looked at the product, they want to interact with it in a way that visually mimics an in store experience as closely as possible. The same can be said for other types of websites, imagine you are researching possible health clinics, the first point of contact is likely to be the website. If the images are limited and of poor quality, would you even bother getting in the car to check it out first hand? Or would you skip to the next website with better images and look at that one?
HOW DO IMAGES MAKE THE VIEWER FEEL?
If you are trying to sell a product, convince the viewer to make a donation, or sign up for something, then it is important to consider the psychological effects of the image. If your site is ecommerce, then customers will be concerned about the authenticity of the product. Even well recognised brands still need to prove themselves to the customer. If you were considering buying something from a new website, but the images were small, a little bit grainy and somewhat blurred at the edges, it's most likely you would think the site was untrustworthy. After all if the company doesn't bother investing in a decent photographer it probably doesn't invest in its products either. All well known online names know that images are essential to sales. Just think of online shopping giants such as Amazon and ebay. Strategically placed images are large and detailed, they include multiple angles, rotation and zoom. Amazon's research confirms the importance of images in the online shopping experience.
HOW SUCCESSFUL WOULD CHARITY CAMPAIGNS BE WITHOUT IMAGES?
Save The Children and their advertising campaigns, most effectively get the message of suffering and poverty across and provoke reactions using images and videos. Research cited in The Guardian showed that images of children that evoke negative emotions produce a greater number of donations.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD IMAGE?
Size matters, statistics show that larger images sell more products
b) Rotational views and multiple angles
Alternative views are essential, as people want to see exactly what they are buying, this helps with product authenticity
A large image will allow the viewer to zoom in closer on the product. An excellent example of this is illustrated by Moss Bros, a retailer for men's suits. Their images are so sharp that the zoom feature even allows you to see the stitching.
A white background is always a safe option, it is clean and seamless. The infinity curve is commonly used
e) Show product in the environment it will be used in
It's no coincidence that when BMW, or any other car manufacturer, markets its latest four wheel drive model, the images usually show the vehicle splashing through water, or on a treacherous looking mountain road, this shows the product in a context
f) Show product in use
If you are selling a fridge, use an image of a fully stocked fridge. This will give the prospective customer an idea of the size of the fridge and what type of products would fit and where. Like wise for an online retailer, images should be of real people wearing the clothes and accessories.
Details allow the viewer to feel as though they are viewing the product in a glass box, they can't touch it, but they can see all the details clearly. This is especially important for ecommerce sites selling small items such as jewellery and watches.
Natural and soft lighting work the best.
i) Focus of the image
Make sure your image focuses on the product or whatever is central to the purpose of the image - it is important that the image isn't 'drowned' in its surroundings.
j) The use of images in social media
It's not only ecommerce sites that need strong images, recent studies found articles with images get 94% more views, this is intrinsically linked to the use of marketing via social media. Articles posted on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus receive more likes and shares than those without. Pinterest and Instagram are other examples of the power of images in social media marketing, as they are purely image based. Jaime Oliver knows how to utilise this tool very effectively, with over 412,000 followers on Instagram, he knows how to market the Jamie Oliver brand through the use of images. So if your website doesn't have any share buttons, make sure you get some!
FREE IMAGE RESOURCES
Buying images online can be expensive, and using any old image that you've found through Google images can get you into trouble. Stay legally compliant with these great image resources which won't cost you a penny.