Websites - Things that work: Great Images Capture the Eye by Moira Ashleigh

Posted on August 05, 2015 at 1:00 PM

Great Blue Heron with captured Suckerfish Horn Pond, Woburn, MA

Pictures and graphics are a necessary addition to a website. It is a well known fact that people look at pictures before they read text - that is just how we are wired. So plan on spending some of your website budget on adding decent graphics or photography.

If you do not have training in creating graphics, it is best not try to do it yourself. Even if your best friend likes your art, it will not reflect professionally on your business or organization. Get a professional. And no, most professionals do not need to do any more free work to fill up their portfolio. Figure out what you need and what your budget is, then find the best you can afford. Look at their portfolio before you hire them to be sure what they do coincides with what your internal images are, because you will have some sense of what is "right" for you.

You can take photos yourself, if you have a pretty good camera, some skill, some knowledge, and the time to take numerous shots to get the right images for the look and feel you need. Before you do try taking the photos yourself, take the time to read up on the basic tips and tricks of good photography. Things like straight horizon lines, the rule of thirds, and depth of field are what we respond to in professional looking images. There is a lot of information on the Internet to help you.

Do not expect that your "smart" phone will take images that are good enough for your website, save those pics for social media. With today's new devices your quality will show.

Another choice is to buy stock images from the web. The search for the right images will take time and patience and most often a certain amount of cash outlay. Different stock photo websites have different pricing structures. Make sure to read the fine print on usage before you buy.

If you know what you want and have the budget, hire a professional photographer who specializes in the type of photography you need. All photographers are not the same. Someone may be great at weddings, but not so great at architecture or product shots.

The one thing you should not do is to take images off the Internet without permission. I know that in school you were able to just copy or cut out other people's images and add them to your presentation. That is under an academic Fair Use and is only for academic purposes in a secure academic setting.

On the Internet you are considered a publisher. Think of it this way, on the Internet you do not have to be in the academic world to see the website. As a publisher, you are subject to copyright law, and violating it is not a good choice. It can lead to fines and even jail time.

There is a caveat, as a publisher on the Internet, your use of copyrighted images may fall under Fair Use. This would come into play if you are reviewing a product, and using an image of or from that product like a book cover, or a still a shot or promotional clip from a movie. That usage is easy to figure, are you promoting or reviewing the image/product/book/movie or are you using the image or clip to promote your website?

There are also images that fall into public domain because they are old enough for their copyright to have expired. I plan to talk about that more at a later date.

Yes, images are essential to today's Internet and people respond to images before text. Plan on spending part of your budget both time and money to get the best images you can.

Website mantra: Great Images Capture the Eye.

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