Images in Website Design – 3 Considerations to Achieve Better Audience EngagementResources December 23, 2012
The use of images on your website could be the single most important designing aspect that has the potential to make or break your site. When it comes to the use of images on your website, the safety doesn’t lie in numbers; yes it’s not about how many images you use, but more about the context in which they are going to be used. It’s how and why you use the images that matters more than the number of images that you use.
There was a time in the not too distant past when designers believed that great design was only about the use of images, although it held true then, this belief doesn’t hold true now; no doubt the use images does help your website attract attention, but that’s not a given, these days. Why? That’s because just about every website today uses images, these could be real, imaginary, animation, hand drawn or something else. So, a visitor expects a website to have images, that’s not something that will surprise him.
So, as designers we have our work cut out for us. We need to be able to use images in the manner best suited to engage the audience. Let’s take a look at three ways on how to make the best use of images on your site.
Images That Don’t Overpower Other Design Elements
Images have a very strong design value. They have the potential to interest, they have the potential to attract and they have the strength to overpower. It’s the last that we have to worry about. Yes images are important, but they shouldn’t be the ‘be all and end all’ of your design considerations; there are other elements like background color, texture, overall design layout etc. that are of some significance as well. So, while your images should be sharp and resonate with vibrancy, they should not overpower the other elements of the design. In fact, use images that can either provide contrast (in a good way) with existing design elements of the page, or even complement the design in some way or the other.
Get your Positioning Right
Another thing that you need to get right is the positioning of the images. If you get this aspect wrong, you have had it. The one thing you need to always make sure is that the image and its related text should be as close to each other as possible. Also find a place on the web page that has minimum interference, meaning a person looking at the images shouldn’t be distracted by other elements of design on the page.
Let me give you an example on ‘correct placement’. Say you want to create a website for a business that is into selling pizzas. You have frozen a concept wherein a huge picture of the pizza or a person eating a portion of a pizza is the Pièce de résistance of your Home Page; the perfect positioning is on the center of the page. Moreover, you must take care that nothing else interferes with the aesthetics of the image placed. As soon as the visitor lands up on a page, he/she is greeted with the image staring at him/her from the center of the page.
Here, you have made the image, the focus of attention, with correct positioning.
Focus on Credibility
There are two aspects to credibility seen through the prism of images – Relevance and Resolution. The two R’s decide whether your images will work towards conveying credibility.
Let’s address relevance first. The images that you choose must be relevant to the purpose of the website. If your website is selling clothes, then pictures of clothes should hold pride of place on your site. Now, you might wonder that this is very obvious, but there are website designers who tend to overlook this detail a lot. In an effort to be different, their choice of images goes haywire. They use the wrong images, for e.g. where real images of clothes (from the product portfolio) will work, they use ‘fantasy’ images.
Now, about Resolution; this is about the quality of the images used. Website visitors whether they are even going to give your images a second look or not, expect only clear, sharp and quality images on the site. High resolution images are usually the best bet, especially in a product centric website, as they give a better idea to visitors about the product.
The reason why resolution and credibility walk hand in hand is because of informed decision making. The clearer the image, the better a person will get an idea about the product’s features and/or functionalities.
These considerations are definitely not everything that you need to do to ensure that the use of your images will engage your audience. While designing a website, put yourself in their shoes. Think about the kind of images they will like and where they will like them to be placed, and which are the images they will find credible?
Making audience defined design decisions will work big time, when you are using images. All the best!!
About the Author
Mark Spenser is working with PLAVEB, a renowned Website design and Development Company, based in Los Angeles (Burbank), California. He has created highly appreciated visual experiences for clients, which has given him insights into the world of Professional web design. He loves sharing them with other likeminded people, through his write-ups on various blogs.