Valuable Images: Choosing the Best for your Online Presence

We've discussed the importance of content for your company's website and social media before. But, not everyone realizes that 'content' covers more than just verbal content; content also includes images. And, images carry a lot of weight in the success of your online presence.

THE POWER OF IMAGES

According to Skyword research, you can average 94 percent more views if your content includes compelling images instead of only text. And, it makes sense why. Think about it:

  • Images have the power to grab a viewer's attention immediately, faster than it takes someone to read even a title.
  • Images don't have the language barrier that both written and spoken word do.
  • A huge percentage of the world's population is made of visual learners rather than auditory or experiential ones.
  • Images are, on average, easier for people to remember after they've seen them.
  • Images have a strong ability to leave a lasting impression.

If you use compelling images on your website, your blog, and your social media posts, images that connect with your audience and make your company stand out from the rest, then it'll have a positive effect. But, using just any images regardless of their relevance, visual power, quality, or size, will most likely do the opposite for you. 

In this post, we'll talk about choosing the best images for your online goals. Keep an eye out for our next Valuable Images post, where we'll explain some basic techniques for editing and exporting your images so that they keep the highest quality without compromising your website's speed.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT IMAGES

Images posted by a company directly reflect that company's brand. If you hold your company in high esteem, then your images need to be relevant, attract your audience, be of good quality, not take a toll on your website's load times, and be legal for your use.

Relevance

Remember, your images are foremost a means of communication. You may find a beautiful image of a tumbling, crystal clear waterfall in front of a gorgeous sunset, but it'll end up hurting your brand if the image has nothing to do with what your supporting content is actually saying. Users don't like to be confused, and they don't expect to be. If a non-relevant image throws them off, you'll immediately lose the connection you'd started to form from with them when you'd first grabbed their attention. They may just react by feeling distracted and try to ignore the image, but they could also react by feeling annoyed, angry, or like they're being tricked. Whichever negative reaction is taken, your brand will diminish, and you'll lose loyalty from your viewers.

Attraction

Images tend to have more success in attracting an audience if they're visually appealing, unique, powerful, or promote authenticity. Generally, people are more drawn to what they see if they can connect to it on an emotional level, and they're also more likely to remember it after the fact.

Stock_Person.pngThis is why you need to be careful when choosing stock images for your website and posts. Stock images are a great resource; they're usually affordable and sometimes free, and they're more than easy to obtain. But, stock images can be tough to work with because they're often staged photos, and sometimes that fact has a painfully obvious and awkward effect to a viewer. This is why stock images featuring people often fail; they lack that authenticity that viewers are automatically attracted to. This isn't to say that you should avoid using stock images of people altogether, but to use them sparingly and make sure they're your best choice for what you're doing.

Quality

Fuzzy or tiny images can hurt your brand like crazy. Low-quality images often give the impression that the person or company responsible for them is too lazy to find a better image or to find someone more skilled to do the job. Low-quality images turn off viewers just like low-quality website designs do. Even if you don't specialize in visual services, people will judge your company's work as having poor quality if that's the kind of element they're seeing from you.

How do images even get to be poor-quality? The main issue comes from when an image has a low resolution, or too few pixels for its size. Pixels (px) are the tiny dots of digital color that, when seen together, form what we see as a full image. When there are too few pixels, or too few dots of color being displayed for an image, it becomes fuzzy to our eye. Other qualities can contribute to an image looking worse as well, like if the image's brightness, contrast, or color is off.

Compare the high-quality and the low-quality image below. Which quality would you trust more from a company?

Low_Quality_Minneapolis.jpg  High_Quality_Minneapolis.png

Unfortunately, the main problem with images that have high resolutions is that they're usually bigger in size and further increase a page's load time. Image size refers to the weight of an image, whether it's in kilobytes (KB), megabytes (MB), or gigabytes (GB), rather than the image's actual dimensions.

You can check your image size by right-clicking the image file, scrolling down, and clicking 'properties' (or ctrl-click if you're using a Mac). You'll then see the properties window open with the image size available. Anytime an image is used on a web page, it increases how long the page takes to load. And, the bigger the image size, the longer the load time becomes. We'll explain how to decrease the size of your images in our next Valuable Images post.

Finding Image Properties     Viewing Image Size

Usage Rights

Image usage rights can be a tricky business. We recommend only using images that you have legal permission for, whether you create your images yourself, use available stock images, or ask a photographer or designer specifically for their permission to use their image. A copyright infringement lawsuit is too big a consequence for posting an image without the needed approval, and the only way to legally use a privately-owned image commercially is to be approved by the image's owner. Sourcing the image and giving credit to where you found it doesn't give you any legal protection if it's a copyrighted image. And, unfortunately, just searching for free or public domain images on Google's Image Search isn't reliable either. You need to know for sure where your images came from.

If you don't want to go through the hassle of getting permission from artists or taking your own photos for your posts, there are a lot of decent stock image libraries, both free and paid, that are specifically catered to businesses.

Some examples of free image libraries that are worth checking out include:

Some examples of royalty-free subscription-based image libraries with good reputations for high quality and variety are:

Naturally, paid image libraries have wider selections and more high-quality images than free libraries do. But, free libraries can have some perfectly good images that work well with your needs, and they're worth checking out in your search for the perfect image.

THANKS FOR READING!

Images you've just downloaded or taken with your camera usually aren't immediately ready for your website or social media. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Valuable Images post about editing and exporting your images, and learn to make your images look their best, have a small file size, and have the right dimensions for your task. We'll discuss file types, software, and basic image editing techniques.