Building out the design/layout for a website is relatively straightforward, and frankly, fun for us to do. Over the years, we’ve been able to get a good pulse for what kinds of styles most people like, and we are able to functionally deliver the vast majority of the time. However, even if we’re able to design the site out the way everyone likes, and we are able to build out the function the site needs, every website will need content to fully-finish the build. Even more so, poor-quality pictures can take even the most well-done web design and make it look bad. Images can make or break a website.
One of the most common problems in a standard website project is fleshing out the design with usable pictures and content. We’ll talk about copy in another post, and today we’ll focus on the pictures themselves. Here’s the synopsis: don’t steal images for your site, and any pictures you can provide yourself will only improve your website.
Here's the thing...
Whatever you do, don’t pirate images to use for your website or social media content. Just because you’re able to find images on Google does not mean you’re allowed to use the pictures for your own gain. Make sure you have rights to images before using them.
So, where can I get pictures?
For your website’s pictures, you’ve got two options. The option that will end up being the most successful for you in the long run is to take pictures yourself! Any content that you have on your website that is uniqeuly yours will be far more effective than any other options. Pictures of your people/product/facility lets users see WHO they are actually doing business with, giving a face to a previously unknown.
Not a photographer and don’t want to shell out the big bucks for really professional shots? That’s fine. Everyone has that friend’s sister’s husband’s cousin that’s a photographer. While we always preach quality over quantity, we’ll promote whatever it takes for decent looking pictures on a website that is unique to that site.
Still not sold on paying anyone to take pictures? That’s still ok. There’s tons of stock photo websites out there where you can buy images that are licensed to you. Even better, that are websites out there that offer FREE stock photography – some of which is actually really good. On those sites you can probably find a couple shots for your website that accurately reflect your style. However, we always recommend on using stock photos as a short-term solution. Your website will ALWAYS be more successful with unique content that is wholly your own.
As we mentioned before, this is an incredibly common situation with websites. Photography makes or breaks any design, so everyone has the desire for quality images. From our experience, we recommend to start looking for your images, or hiring your photographer as soon as possible in the web development experience. With scheduling and the time it takes to get everything ironed out, it could be weeks before you’re able to get the content together and sent over to us.
It’s also possible, if not welcome, to have the images ready to go beforehand. This helps your web developer or development company have a better understanding of your product/services, as well as the style you have in mind for the content. The more pieces of the puzzle you have before the designer starts, the better.
The size of the image all depends on the use the image will have. If your site needs banner images, make sure those images are between 1500 – 2000 px wide. If you have products, those will likely need to be either 500×500 or a portrait style (like clothing boutiques) at 300×500.
High-res photos are needed, but the file size needs to be kept down. If you can get every image on your site less than 1 MB, you’re in business. Server space is rarely the issue, but load speed always is. The larger the file the longer it takes to load.