Sometimes great content is just not enough!
Images attract our attention, especially where social media is concerned. Everyone scrolls through Twitter and Facebook generally ignoring anything that doesn’t immediately grab their attention. Videos, infographics, and images encourage us to stop scrolling and engage with the image, even just momentarily.
Visuals on your web page help readers to engage with your material and be more inclined to share it socially. Images can reinforce your message, explain an idea or process, and create emotions that are relevant to your content. It is important to understand not only that visuals aid readership, but also how to optimise on this.
Random and standard stock images are not going to engage your audience. Images need to be relevant to your content. Inserting any random image into your content that does not relate to your target readers, your content, or your brand’s identity will just confuse your message.
It is generally difficult to find anything as descriptive as a photograph. In order to stand out from the crowd, designers are now creating custom images such as vector backgrounds, illustrated artwork, and animated video that are directly related to their website or content. However, if you are selling products, then an image of the product is essential. Product images are generally more aesthetically pleasing when photographed in-situ, rather than set on a plain white background. This also better communicates to potential customers the size of the product, and its intended setting.
Web design in the last couple of years have centred on a more visual user experience. Choosing key and appropriate imagery can tell a story if done correctly. A homepage with a full screen image can convey the identity of a website far quicker than a paragraph of text. These large images engage the viewer, and the immediate communication of purpose attracts users that are interested in progressing further through the content. Our familiarity with advertising through our use of social media means that viewers can understand and relate to brands more readily. Once inside a website this knowledge of advertising can help users to quickly relate to the brand in question.
A large visual header will immediately grab the attention of a viewer. Viewers approach content from left to right starting from the top of the screen/page. A large visual header that occupies the width of the screen near the top of the page will create impact and encourage the viewer to read the related content. This image can also aid you once shared on social media by attracting the attention of new readers. Depending on your type of website, a full screen image header could be your decided direction. Whilst images such as the header need to link to the meaning and atmosphere of the related content, images within the content also need to follow this. Internal visuals should be closely positioned to the section of text that they accompany. Images that directly relate to a small section of the text can be coded to remain close to this using cascading style sheets.
Are you making the most of infographics?
Infographics can also be used to inject a little fun into a subject matter, and also provide a visually stimulating accompaniment to text. These more complex graphics allow you to explain your message before the reader even reaches your site, ensuring that those that click are genuinely interested. Infographics are extremely shareable via social media so it is important to brand your image with your logo and/or contact details as it may be passed on without a connecting hyperlink.
Use images wisely
Whilst they attract attention, using too many images can often confuse visitors and the important elements can be overlooked.
The file size of your engaging image could deter your audience from your website. Large file sizes take longer to load, and curious readers will often lose interest at this point. An image resolution of 72ppi is suitable for the majority of screens. Images should be optimised previous to uploading, but online compression tools are also available to apply to your website.
File names and alt tags can be used to further optimise your visuals. Alt tags describe your image to viewers who cannot interact with the image (such as the visually impaired) and provide search engine robots with information about the image. Describe what is happening/featured in the image rather than giving it a random name. This is the same for the saved name of your image; keep it relevant and descriptive.
Last year, data collected by Twitter showed that using an image in a tweet increased retweets by 35%, with videos increasing retweets by 28%. Social Bankers carried out a similar data survey on Facebook, with 87% of interacted posts using images. Image use in websites is becoming bigger and people are reading more visually rather than just through the content. Information is so readily and constantly available to us, that it takes good quality engaging visuals to grab our attention to any one idea. Visuals not only need to be relevant, well positioned, and pleasing to look at, but also optimised to better attract new readers and increase shareability.