Photographic images grab our attention and trigger an almost instantaneous response when we encounter them. They are therefore an important part of any website we create. Photos play a huge factor in earning trust. Dotnet Webdesign knows how a photo can speak volumes.
When used properly, photos are very effective and can quickly send the intended message to your audience. However, using the wrong photos can degrade your users’ experience. How do we choose the right ones?
Using Photos in Web Design
As much as we care about all aspects of the website we’re creating: content, colours, typography, hierarchy, information architecture and other details, photos deserve as much attention in terms of usability and overall users’ experience on your site.
Dealing with photos on websites should be something designers understand and apply effectively, so this article will point you in the right direction and show you how to think about photos when deciding to use one on your next web project.
Demand Attention by Using a Large Photo
People scan screens based on past experience and expectations. The top left is the most common starting point for users’ eyes, although this does depend on their culture’s reading patterns. If you’re using a large photo on the page it will immediately grab their attention and pull them away from their usual tendency.
Treating a Photo as Content
I’ve seen many designers just placing a beautiful fullscreen photo on a web page, throwing in some tagline or a “Call to action” and declaring it done. In many cases the photo has not been evaluated, the designer was merely following an ongoing trend. We at Dotnet Webdesign evaluate a photo before using it on your site. This is just one of the questions you need to answer before using a photo on a web page.
Photos should never be used just to “jazz up” the web page.
Choosing the Perfect Photo
Our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than reading text. – There are a few things to consider when deciding to choose a photo in your design. I will assume that you already know how to evaluate fundamental aspects of a photo, those being: quality, size, composition and exposure. Quality in terms of required resolution, size of the image and preferably its orientation for the intended usage, effective composition and cropping of the photo to draw attention, and properly exposed subjects on the photo.
Once you have done that and the photo has passed the fundamental test you can continue to explore the options for your intended usage.
Is it Useful?
Above all a photo must be useful. There’s nothing wrong with using a photo as a placeholder to brighten up a page or fill some space, but even then consider the context in which you’re using that photo. Useful, helpful, thought provoking content photos are the ones which need our special attention. Useful photos should
- help us better understand something,
- teach us how to use something, or
- show us how something is done.
Is it Effective?
An effective photo is the one which is prompting for an action, influences our behaviour and communicates the intended message clearly. In particular, good and effective product photos should encourage users to buy those products
Is it Emotive?
An emotive photo should result in an emotional response from the viewer. Be it just pleasing to look at, or calming, or disturbing in a way that compels us to take some action, or funny and entertaining, or attractive and desirable, as long as the photo appeals to our emotions in some way it will have greater impact than one which doesn’t.