Website Images : Make them Work for You

Andrea Palmer

Published Tue 28 Oct by Andrea Palmer in Perfecting Your Website's Design

This article shows you how to use images that enhance your website and help visitors engage with your products and services

It’s well known that a picture is worth a thousand words, but how can you make sure your website images are working for your business?

Using large images on your home page and inner pages can be visually appealing. They can attract visitors to engage with your website, ensure they stay on your page for longer, and identify with your business brand.

While they can enhance your website, large images can damage overall user experience if they are not implemented correctly.

How Using Large Images can Promote Your Business

  • Images capture your users’ attention
  • Images communicate your message in a way that is instant - it’s a mental shortcut that can have an emotional impact on your visitors straight away- as opposed to text, which takes some cognitive ‘work’
  • Images can be used to invoke positive emotions, which over time visitors will come to associate with your company / organisation
  • Images can instantly inspire and engage people - accompanied by targeted text, it can be a winning combination

Practical Guidance

1. Accompany images with strategic copy -  images alone can forge that link with your target audience. They can evoke emotions and help them to identify with your business brand. But images alone are unlikely to make visitors commit to a purchase. While a large image to draw them in is an initial pull, to keep them interested, engaging copy that convinces them your product or service is what they want will benefit your website.

Image of Fresher and Prosper home page

  • The large image used on our own home page reflects the nature of the service it is promoting. On its own, the image is inviting and positive - the great outdoors, nature, a positive path towards light - but without the accompanying copy, visitors would not necessarily know what it was telling them. With the text and the accompanying call to action, the visitor will be in no doubt what action they are being guided to take
  • With a clear call to action on the large image, the visitors’ attention is focused
  • The accompanying text is not sales-focused, but is gently guiding the visitor along a path of action ‘Start perfecting your web presence today, for free’
  • The use of the word ‘your’ addresses the visitor personally, so is more likely to capture their attention, as is its focus on benefits for them
  • The unique selling point (even though this service is free so is not technically ‘selling’ at all) is that the service is free. Giving visitors a clear and tangible benefit that is unique is a good way of keeping their attention and encouraging them to stay on your site and delve further by following your call to action
  • Whereas the large image may be the main draw, it cannot do all the work on its own, so accompanying text that is benefits and customer- focused is always a winner

2. Impressive images work best when matched with high calibre functionality on your website - Of course, impressive photography is something to aim for. Images draw visitors in and engage their attention. But you’ll really up your game and stand out from the crowd if your website’s functions mirror this impressive front. The images are your shop-front, but the whole shop cannot run from its window display. Once you’ve got customers through the door, the floor has to be sound, the products easy to see, the customer service accessible and customer-focused. Images alone cannot do the whole job. Functionality of a website is an important part of the overall user experience. Functionality includes your navigation, search boxes, back buttons, calls to action and links. Paying attention to all of these can help increase your visitors’ time on your site and make them more likely to buy.

3. Calls to action that are distinct - it may sound daft, and too simple even to mention, but I think it’s worth a mention because the importance of your call to action cannot be underestimated. Using large images that take up a large expanse of your home page (or inner pages) can be a great way to draw in visitors and attract their attention. But if you choose a call to action that is a similar colour to your background image, it’s not going to stand out the way it should or could. It’s a simple thing, but sometimes it’s the simple things we get wrong in life! Choosing a colour for your call to action that stands out and sings for its supper is a good way to make sure your visitors won’t miss out.

4. Functions that are accessible - large images attract attention and are impressive, but they should not adversely affect the user’s ability to perform the task they want. 

Image of Victoria and Albert museum home page

See the V&A home page for a good example of the large image and the essential user tasks sitting happily side by side. Within the body of the image, there is a clear search box for the users that is easy to see but doesn’t detract from the image or obscure it in any way. The essential search box function sits in tandem and the user does not have to scroll down to get to it. Having to scroll down is a common frustration among web users that can be avoided easily, with a little forethought into design and function of your home page

NNG’s Kathryn Whitenton encourages a ‘balanced approach: images that support the brand, without obscuring important content’

5. Images that are relevant 

Image of East Midlands Trains home page

Users like to see images that enhance and demonstrate your business brand, your products and services. They are not likely to respond well to images, however impressive and beautiful they are, if they have no discernible relevance to what your business is about.

  • EMT have large images scrolling along their home page that actively encourage users to consider the particular service that is showing. The example shown here is ‘Best fare finder,’ illustrated by the image of train tickets
  • Images relevant to the ‘Autumn Activities and Attractions’ and ‘Upgrade to our First Class’ tabs display when the slider scrolls through. The images give the user a quick reference point so they can decide if this is what they’re looking for

As Kathryn Whitenton points out, ‘the images you select should showcase the purpose of your site’. Your site is not there to showcase the images you have selected. Your images are important, and large images especially can have the added ‘wow’ factor if used properly and are taken professionally.

We’ve disscussed the ways in which images can enhance your website’s purpose. Images can benefit your business if they are clear, relevant and do not detract from important user tasks such as noticing and responding to your call to action, searching your site, navigating to your inner pages and reading your copy. 

Your thoughts? We'd be interested to hear about how you use images on your website and on your social media platforms. Has this article raised any issues for you that you'd like help with? Visit our ask an expert page for help and advice, for free!

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