A Guide to Imagery: Seeing the Big Picture
Posted on by WebSolutions
When it comes to your online marketing initiatives, the old adage is true – a picture really is worth a thousand words. Imagine, then, what imagery can do for your organization!
Your website is more than just a pretty face, and the images you use on it should be, too. Take advantage of the benefits imagery can bring your business by ensuring that each photo conveys the message you want to send. Carefully selected images on your website can offer visitors a visual overview of who you are. They can also evoke strong emotions that users will associate with your company and your products. Consistent use of imagery can bolster your credibility, motivate your target audience, and provide almost instantaneous recognition of your brand.
Web Solutions is here to help with the core imagery of your website, ensuring that your site instantly communicates who you are. As your organization continues to grow and evolve, you’ll find opportunities for building out your site further. For buying, using, and displaying imagery, here are some best practices to follow.
Making the Most of Imagery
- SEO. Because search engine spiders can only read text, not graphics, they need more “clues” to help explain what the image is about. Embedding targeted keywords into image tags (generally known as “alt tags”) and file names will increase the keyword density for the image, web page and the whole website, which can improve search engine visibility for those keyword queries. This includes both search results across the web and image results like you'd find in a Google image search. Ask Web Solutions to help you optimize your imagery for search engines.
- Photography Release Forms. Using your own photography will save you research, time, and maybe money. However, if you will be using photography of minors (anyone under the age of 18), there’s one extra step to take. A minor release form must be signed before the photos can be used in a commercial application. The child’s parent (preferably both parents) or legal guardian(s) must sign the form to give permission on behalf of the minor. You can protect your photos further via a members-only login area on your site, allowing you to control who can see which images.
- Be size wise. Display your imagery at its best by resizing images before you upload them. Stretching and shrinking a picture rather than properly resizing it for web viewing can distort the image and reduce its quality. Many of Web Solutions’ Photo Gallery Apps automatically resize images. Otherwise, take advantage of one of the many photo programs that are available online for free.
- Go iconic. Using graphic icons (symbols or representations) on your website is a great way to seamlessly integrate imagery into pages of text. Icons can be custom made or pulled from files of clip art – your company's logo can even be used as an icon. These images can reinforce your brand, highlight important facts, boldly emphasize a call-to-action, or make a page more visually appealing – and won't distract from your content.
- Keep your image content fresh. Still using outdated photos of your products and staff? Give these images an upgrade with a professional photo shoot. Get detailed images of your products from multiple angles, professional portraits of your staff members, and even photos of your location and facility. These new images will help keep your site looking current, and will reflect your dedication to keeping your customers informed and updated. For high quality results, hire a photographer for these images, or call Web Solutions! Then, consider keeping your imagery archives organized and accessible by building online photo galleries.
Stock Photography: Before You Search
There are millions of stock images for sale by online distributors – you might be wondering how to know which photos are right for representing your organization. Narrow the pool by asking yourself these questions:
- Who is my target audience? Consider how your target audience might be represented in imagery – think age and ethnicity, for example. Choose imagery that is relevant to and inclusive of those groups.
- How do I want customers to feel about my brand? Imagery’s power lies in its ability to appeal to your customers’ emotions. Choose images that drive the emotions you want customers to feel.
- What kind of imagery do my competitors use? You should take the time to examine your competitors’ online marketing materials. Compare their stock imagery to your own to ensure that there is no brand confusion being generated.
Stock Photography: Before You Buy
- Make sure it’s really you. Your brand’s imagery is essential to telling your audience who you are, and again, this is even more important for smaller businesses. Look at imagery as an opportunity to differentiate your brand.
- Check twice, pay once. If you plan on integrating a particular image into your brand or in any way using it more than once, it’s a good idea to invest in Royalty-Free (RF) imagery. With this option, you pay a one-time fee for rights to the image, whereas you’d pay “royalties,” fees incurred for each usage, with Rights-Managed (RM) imagery.
The down side to stock imagery? Your fee doesn’t give you exclusive rights to the image, which means the photograph or image can be sold again unlimitedly, including possibly to a competitor or other company which might obscure your brand.
Whether you buy stock photos or take your own, imagery is a great tool for connecting with your clients and solidifying your brand. So what should you do first when you’re ready to take advantage of the all imagery has to offer? The best way to start is to make sure the imagery displayed on your site is still relevant. Has your target market changed since Web Solutions built your site? Or have you had new photographs of your products taken for a catalog? If so, it may be time to call us – Web Solutions can help you put your best face forward!