It’s safe to assume that almost everyone enjoys looking at photos. And it wouldn’t be outlandish to say, “people don’t really read on the web anymore” (or at least, not like they used to). Need proof?
- 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram per day.
- 8,784,175,598 photos have been viewed on Unsplash.com.
- Less than 20% of text content is actually read.
Armed with the knowledge that people primarily scan when viewing a website, we know that our headlines need to be clear, concise, and well-written in order to help users scan content as they scroll down a webpage. But what about photography? Pairing an eye-catching headline and interesting copy with a great photograph increases engagement, usability, and the visual impact of the site’s design. Photos shouldn’t be used as decoration, they can and should enhance textual content.
Comparing a text only content area vs an image-based area, which catches your eye first?
MIT neuroscientists find the brain can identify images seen for as little as 13 milliseconds.
What’s the Makeup of a Great Photograph?
When choosing photographs to pair with your content, you should consider:
- Composition - How are the elements arranged in the frame?
- Color - Do the colors fit within the design system?
- Focus - Is the photo sharp?
- Subject Matter - Does the photo pair well with the content?
- Authenticity - Does it feel staged?
- Originality - Is this photo style unlike anything you’ve seen before?
More on Authenticity
The authenticity of a photograph is incredibly important, and I’ve seen many sites fall flat when missing this mark. Photography choices could fail for a number of reasons; timeline, budget, resources, but often the culprit is content editors resorting to stock photography libraries. While stock can be helpful, it’s doesn’t meet the “great photograph” standards of authenticity and originality. A competitor could easily use the same photo, and impair your ability to differentiate. However, not all stock photography is the same. Some libraries, such as stocksy.com and unsplash.com have come a long way and actually specialize in not feeling like “stock.”
Consider Hiring an Expert
Ideally, there's room in the digital marketing budget to hire a photographer for specific shoots as needed. This is the best case scenario and when paired with a thoughtful content strategy, the photographer will have the guidance needed to capture the appropriate shots.
Finding the right photographer can be challenging, since the market is highly saturated. But, they’re out there, you just have to do some digging. Search Instagram for relevant hashtags that fit the type of shots you’re looking for, use Google to find photographers in your area and evaluate their portfolio, or ask connections on social media for recommendations, you’re bound to get some feedback.
Photography is an undeniably important component of a website. With several avenues to collecting high-quality images accessible, there really is no excuse for falling short. With the right photography you can transform your design, convey your brand message, provide a superior user experience, and ultimately, better connect with your key audiences.
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