Why Photography Choices Can Make or Break Your Website
Seven seconds for first impressions.
First impressions are everything in business. In a world of reducing attention spans and digitalisation, it’s increasingly important to get your brand across right, the first time.
Research suggests that within the first seven seconds of meeting, people will have made an impression of who you are — and some research suggests a tenth of a second is all it takes to begin making our minds up about characteristics such as trustworthiness.
That doesn’t give much time to communicate your history, your goals, or your offering. In fact, it’s not much time to communicate anything… So how do we get across who we are in as little time as a breath?
We may not be able to give an elevator pitch in seven seconds, but we can make a visual impression.
According to research, first impressions are 94% design related. In a study focusing on how design and information content influences trust on online health sites, research concluded that the look and feel of the website was the main driver of first impressions.
Online, first impressions are even more important because audiences are not captive. It’s not a social event where you get locked into an uninteresting conversation, where you politely remain. Consumers are in complete control online. And they move fast. Research shows that average bounce rates are around 60% for B2B businesses - and in little as 50 milliseconds, a first impression has been formed. This opinion determines whether they’ll stay or leave, and even whether they’ll become your customer, or not.
So how do you get your brand across to ensure the right first impressions, and prevent potential customers from bouncing off into the depths of the internet?
Great visual design, supported by high-quality photography.
Your website photography must be a mirror for yourself and your key audience.
So, keeping in mind these minuscule figures for first impressions and bounce rates - there is no room for visual confusion on your website. Every element must reflect who you are. If a picture speaks a thousand words, what are your images saying about you?
For a premium product or service brand, a luxury offering must be paralleled with high-quality photography. A pixellated image, or an unrelated visual, directly contrasts the impression you’re trying to make. It’s always best to have your own photoshoot and showcase original images on your website in order to appear truly authentic.
Take pictures of your dream customers using your product in their dream location. Beyond product and service, have your imagery evoke the feelings you wish your customers to experience. A happy, fulfilled, inspired customer will help your potential consumers to visualise themselves with your product, and more importantly, with that feeling.
No budget? No problem.
Although not preferred to your own, original and authentic photography, there are many free and accessible stock photography options to help you build an image for your website. However, it’s important to spend time sourcing relevant images, and ensuring they aren’t coming across too ‘stock’ - because it appears inauthentic. Some recommended websites for stock photography are Unsplash and Pexels (which are both free), and Shutterstock (an affordable alternative, although it can take a while to find non-cheesy stock photos). Keeping a Pinterest board specific to your brand is a fantastic way of keeping on top of your visual mind - and displaying it back to you - as well as keeping your imagery fresh and relevant.
Beyond websites - social media is your brand’s visual window.
Good photography expands beyond your website. All touchpoints must mirror the same impression, consistently.
Social media is a key communicator of brand identity. Your social media sites are a personification of your brand. It’s the most direct and personable way for your customers to interact with you. So it’s crucially important to ensure your visuals are consistently on-brand at every angle.
Scheduling sites such as Planoly are a great way to visualise and plan ahead for your social channels. Not only must you ensure each image tells your story, but in aggregate, your visual content represents who you are. It’s important to occasionally step back and view your brand from afar, focusing on social posts collectively, as well as individually. This is how your potential customers will see you. Remember to continuously put yourself not only in their shoes - put their glasses on!
Top Tips for Website Photography Choices
What size and format should website photos be?
Size is important for photographs on your website. It’s all well and good to have high-quality, on-brand photography. But if your traffic has bounced from your website before the photo has loaded, a bad impression is formed regardless. Your photos should be PNGs or JPEGs, 72dpi and reduced in size to reduce load time, and drop-offs.
when to use high-quality photography on your website?
Always! Make sure your images are clear, and check that reducing image sizes does not compromise its quality.
How to stay on-brand with website photography choices.
Ask yourself, does this image feel like me? Every touchpoint is a reflection of your brand, people can digest visual information much quicker than reading your about section. Help them out with a consistent visual, lighting choice, setting and filter.
Photography choice is the lens through which your consumers view your brand. Especially for new business, imagery helps to piece together your world, so customers can more accurately visualise themselves in it. Visual impressions come before verbal communication - help your customers to stay a little longer with solid photography choices and tasteful design. This is the first step towards getting them to not only remain in your online space, but convert as customers and stay in your world for real.
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