Professional Imagery: Why it is Important for Your Website
As much as we all loathe to admit it, let’s face it: appearance is everything.
DESIGN • MARKETING
Humans are visual creatures hence what others see has an undeniable impact on our success. Images transcend language and words and allow for a greater understanding of whatever is being discussed. Since first impressions are formed within seconds and since most of the information we consume and interpret is visual, quality design can make your site and your brand stick in the viewer’s mind as professional and credible. This article will discuss why we’re image based, how you can benefit from this knowledge and what constitutes as a well-designed site.
Why are we so Image Based?
Our minds react differently to visual stimuli because the human brain deciphers image elements instantly, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process. Studies tell us that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. "Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak” (Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972). So unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear.
How can we Benefit?
A professional, modern looking website can immediately build trust and guide visitors to take action. When it comes to web copy, people rarely read a piece of content word for word. On the other hand, images stick with readers longer and are more likely to give you a greater return on your content investment. The design of a website is significant because it affects how quickly visitors can find what they are looking for. If navigating the website is difficult or frustrating, the visitor will leave and try on another site, resulting in a lost opportunity. A good design will be easy to understand and navigate, helping potential customers find what they need and taking you one step closer to making a sale or getting in touch.
What Constitutes a Good Design?
Effective design should convey a message, tell a story, and allow anyone to understand what you’re talking about. Several factors such as consistency, colours, photos and simplicity all contribute to a well designed site.
A great example of these factors all coming into play can be found at the library service provider www.whitehots.com. On the homepage, striking red, black and white rotating simple, clear images convey a clear message as to what the company does. The clean lines guide the user through the content, almost like a book itself telling a story. The colorful, symbolic icons clearly convey and breakdown concepts. Everything is consistent to support the information and provide a summary of the information. All these factors contribute to how long a user stays on your site, hence the more chance you have of keeping their interest perked. Users will therefore feel more comfortable in their investment with your company.
I Want My Site to Look Like Apple
A common request we get via our design questionnaires is; “I want my site to look like Apple’s”. So many people ask this because Apple Inc. is pretty much synonymous with classy design. Why does Apple’s design work? Here are just a few reasons:
Simplicity: Take a look at Apple’s homepage and don’t think about what you see, but what you don’t see. The answer of course is visual clutter. Specifically the homepage, which simply shows off their most recent work and provides you with a few easily understood categories to help you get to the information you want to see. Even if your company is not as ubiquitous, you can still use minimal but attractive design to increase usability.
Stunning product shots: One of Apple’s principle reasons for cutting back on superfluous graphics on their site is to really showcase what’s important: their products. Just look at the shots they use; it’s nearly impossible to look at a page on the Apple site and not have your eyes focus on the products for seconds on end. There are several things that make these products look so incredible. The first is that they are obviously pristine. Chalk this one up to digital imaging experts. The combination is a mixture of photography, 3D modeling and Photoshop. The next thing they do is to make them take up a huge portion of the page, which are overwhelmingly impressive.
Consistency: Apple’s general look or “brand essence” is applied across every single thing they design. It’s quite stunning when you realize how much their software actually looks like their hardware. You can’t get much more integrated.
Details: Apple is all about attention to detail. Every little piece of their site is finessed into perfection. Never fall into the trap of saying “no one will notice” or “good enough.” It is often the margin of time spent on the tiniest details that separate the good websites from the great ones.
Strong grid: Every page on Apple’s site adheres to a strict grid structure; whether simple or complicated, it’s there. There is a ton going on, but it somehow seems attractive instead of overwhelming. Breaking sporadic information up into manageable cells drastically reduces visual clutter and confusion.
“People no longer just want to browse a website, they want to experience it.”
Professional images capture authenticity. Photographs not only show the visitor what you offer, but can also make them want to act. People no longer just want to browse a website, they want to experience it. The bakery website www.cookieitup.com is full of quality, wholesome images of fresh cookies and natural ingredients. The tantalizing photos and custom illustrations make one want to rush over and buy a box (or five). A personal touch is the result which really speaks to the handmade aspect of the products. The simplicity and consistency of the images speaks to the quality of the product.
It’s simple: the more professional, compelling and enticing your site’s photography is, the more business you’ll conduct over time. We’re not just talking about pretty pictures, we’re talking about a way to visualize information in a simple way that makes sense to the client. Using good photography of your products and services will help you market to a much larger audience. Photos open your content up to a whole new audience through giving visitors the chance to share your imagery with friends and family. Bonus: shared images are basically free advertising. Professional photos can make your visitor understand your product or service more.
The key to using stock photography is searching for unique and compelling images that are relevant to your brand and your message without looking cliché. Using the site www.octacom.ca as an example, we immediately recognize what the business does, based on the images alone. Depending on your budget you can choose to use all professional, all stock imagery or a mixture of both.
Team Photos Convey Culture and Consistency
Hiring a professional to take photos of your team in action will get you authentic results that will convey company culture and consistency. Your face is part of your brand, so a professional head shot will not only look flattering, but will also make your customer see you as more trustworthy, sincere, and well-practiced. These photos can also be used in places other than your website. You can use them all over your personal and professional social media accounts, such as LinkedIn and Facebook where profile pictures matter most.
If you are striving to be professional and knowledgeable in the workplace, then your website needs to reflect that. Using great design and quality photography is a necessity in this visual world. Great design should convey a message in an easy, simple way, transcend language barriers, provide a good summary of information, support and break down complex concepts, and take a fraction of a second to understand.
The next time you’re tempted to skimp on the professional graphic design, bear in mind that images go directly into long-term memory (words are processed by our short-term memory). They can be called upon when thinking about a particular business or company. Make sure your business conjures great images along with compelling content. Recognizing the importance of visual communication for your site is key to your success.