You’ve heard it before – a picture is worth a thousand words. So when it comes to taking pictures for your small business website, it’s essential to use the images that best represent your brand and convey the right message.
Website images have many benefits for your small business. One survey reported that 60% of consumers were more likely to contact or consider buying from a business whose website had images. And with the growing availability of smartphones with high quality cameras, you have more options for taking your own pictures for your website. If you do, you should consider these ideas on how to get the most out of your images.
Showcasing Your Business Facilities
When taking photos of your business facilities, you should predominantly feature your business, with the building centered in the middle of the frame and your business name clearly visible. Since you will use these photos on your website and across the Web, they should represent your business, your logo, and your location well. So, try taking pictures without cars, people, or anything else obstructing the view of your business.
Also, setting up a Google Places page is a great way to reach local customers, and images are a valuable addition to improve your Google Place page rank in organic search. And because images may appear next to your business’ listing on the search engine page, displaying your business in its best light is beneficial.
Showing Before and After Images
If you are in the business of improvement, from lawn care to interior design to orthodontics, you should demonstrate the value your business provides. Taking before and after images is a great way to illustrate the results-driven service you provide and gives your potential consumers a visual understanding of what it is you do. When taking before and after images, the finished product should be the only major difference between the images. Try to keep the framing, cropping, location, and lighting the same in both. Also, take care to make sure the images displays an honest representation of your work and avoid doctoring your “after” images. Your consumers may raise an eyebrow if your “after” image is conspicuously different from the “before” photo, defeating the purpose of showcasing the results of your work. You may also want to take snapshots throughout the process to show your progress over time.
Photographing Authentic People
When using images of people on your website, you should keep in mind that they are a reflection of your business. So, if you want to include pictures of people on your website, it’s a great idea to select individuals who look like your target audience rather than using generic stock photos. If you can’t afford to hire models, consider taking photos of friends, family, or actual customers – just make sure they sign a release form allowing you to publish their photos online. Before the photo shoot, direct them on appropriate attire and actions that will convey the right message to your website visitors. Take a variety of photos, including posed and candid shots, so you have a good selection to choose from throughout your site. Also, select several different locations to shoot in, and get participants to interact in authentic ways, such as talking with your staff or looking at your products.
Taking a Professional Headshot
Professional headshots are useful for your website as well as business networking profiles and online directories, so they should demonstrate professionalism and expertise. One thing you should try to avoid is cropping people out of a candid or group photo. Instead, take a simple shot against a clean background, in good lighting, without distracting elements in the background. If you include multiple headshots on your website, including staff or other business partners, try to take everyone’s images at the same time, so that they all look similar. You should also consider taking photos of your employees in their workspace. If you do, pay careful attention to the framing of the photo to make sure there aren’t plants, furniture, or any other items awkwardly placed in the background.
Choosing the Right Setting
Choosing the right background can highlight the focal point of your image, but it can also distract the viewer’s attention. When taking an image, you should always look at what else is in the frame of the picture. It’s in your advantage to have control of what is in your image, so avoid photo shoots in busy areas with crowds of people, especially if you don’t have permission to distribute their image. Simple fixes, like cleaning off a counter, accenting a shelf with a nice arrangement, and removing other companies’ branded products are small but significant details to consider.
Your lighting can also dramatically enhance your photo. If it’s possible, shoot your photos in natural light. If you are inside, experiment with the flash settings on your camera, the lights in the room, or by adding light with lamps or candles. There are also many sites with advanced tips on composition, equipment and lighting.
Being Selective with Your Images
While images can appeal to consumers, having too many or using files that are larger than necessary on your website can affect its overall performance by slowing down loading time. Plus, too many photos on your home or landing page can clutter it and distract from other relevant content on the page. So, to make sure that you get the most out of your website images, focus on value-added images that tie directly to your business and optimize images as you would your website. You can also consider creating an image gallery designed specifically for displaying images without increasing loading time, which has been shown to increase page abandonment.
Images are a great way to add uniqueness and personality to your website. They are also a powerful tool in building your Web presence. Plus, if you have extra photos that don’t make the cut for your website, you can still publish these images in online photo albums like Picasa or Flickr and add a link to the albums. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are also great places to upload your photos to share with your fans and followers.
What do the images on your website say about your small business? Can you apply these tips to improve your website images? Let us know it the comments!
About the Author
Tara Banda writes for the ReachLocal and ReachCast blogs about how small business owners can reach local customers through online marketing. You can connect with her on Twitter.