10 Highly Effective Ways to Improve Your Website Images
Having the right images can make or break the way people perceive your website.
Photos are a tricky thing - you don’t want cheesy stock photos of random people in suits high-fiving, but at the same time, it’s hard to take good ones yourself.
In some cases, like when you’re selling products, you need to have photos of your own. You have the option of hiring a professional photographer, but we all know that when you’re a small business owner, you’ve got a mile-long list of expenses. Odds are, you’re not looking to add to that list, amiright?
First thing’s first: It’s okay to use your smartphone, you just need to use it correctly.
Most phones made in the past few years have cameras as good or better than any point-and-shoot camera. So unless you’ve invested in a DSLR camera somewhere along the way, your phone should be able to take pictures worthy of posting on your website.
While there are numerous softwares available to touch up photos, the goal with photography is to start with a great picture so you’re not making too many adjustments on the back end.
A little tidbit about me: I used to have an Etsy shop selling children’s floor pillows. I spent hours taking pictures, retouching them, and adding them to listings. My son was around 3 years old when I started, and though absolutely adorable, a bit of a wiggle worm. Long story short, I wanted to start with good pictures so I didn't have to re-take them or spend hours on the computer trying to make something out of nothing. In the end, the best pictures were always taken near a window with very little edits on the backend.
Here are 10 easy ways to get you started on the right path to better photos on your website:
Clean your lens (no joke). You might be thinking, “seriously? This is a no brainer.” Well, not to everyone. I’ve seen several pictures on websites that are blurry, clearly from a dirty lens. Take the time before you start snapping to wipe your lens with a soft, clean cloth. Considering how much our phones are handled, you can just assume yours is always at least a little smudged, so this should be step one every time you take a pic.
Use natural light whenever possible. Try to take your pictures during the day, without fluorescent lighting or a flash. If you can position your subject near a window, or even outside, to take advantage of sunlight, even better. Natural light produces - wait for it - more natural looking images. If you use a flash, your subject make look harsh or the color may be distorted.
Click on the focal point of the image to adjust brightness. This is a good tip if you’re in an environment that’s light in one area, and dark in another. You may also have a subject that is lit from behind, and this is helpful in adjusting the brightness. When you’re looking at the subject on your phone, before you take your picture, tap the focal point and points around it. This will adjust the lighting in the image, just snap your pic when you’re happy with the brightness. If you’re unable to get good lighting, try adjusting the subject’s position, or relocating.
Clear out the background. Just like on Facebook when you choose the cleanest corner of your house to take your kids’ pictures, make sure the background of the image for your website is clean. You want the subject to be the focal point of your picture, and a cluttered background can be distracting. Having a mess in the photo can also make you seem unprofessional.
Use consistent backgrounds and layouts for multiple photos, such as product pages and galleries. This is a tip I learned from working on my Etsy shop. Since multiple listings appear on a page, using a consistent background and layout for the images gives a sense of consistency. For example, my floor pillows were always positioned on a beige floor, positioned at roughly the same angle. If you’re selling baked goods, you can do the same by placing them on a certain table for pictures. If you’re taking pictures of dogs you’ve groomed for your before and after gallery, try to take them all in the same spot in your shop.
Upload them to Canva to adjust the size. While many website platforms are “plug and play”, so to speak, your images still need to be the right size before you upload them. For example, a Squarespace banner is generally 2000px by 1500px. So, when I want to create a banner for Squarespace, I create a new design in Canva that has those dimensions. Then, I upload the photo I want to use, design my banner, download the image, reduce the size (see below), then add it to my website. No matter what you’re using, you can always google ‘best size for ___ images ” to see how big your images should be.
Run through tinyjpg or something similar before adding to your site. Large file sizes bog down your website, causing it to run slowly. A slowly running website discourages visitors from sticking around, damaging your SEO. A good rule of thumb is that you want your image files to be less than 500KB each. One way to reduce the file size is to use tinyjpg or jpegmini, and there are several other websites to choose from. You simply upload the images you want to reduce, the website does its thing, and you download the image with a much smaller file size. Magic!
Rename your images with keywords in the file name. Having images names IMG42912.jpg does nothing to help your SEO. But, if you rename them to Custom Birthday Cake, or Freshly Groomed Poodle, these are names Google will pick up on and use to boost your search ranking. Since we usually have so many images on our websites, this is a great way to insert more keywords into the pages. The image name often appears on social media as well, like on Pinterest, for example, so it’s nice to have the proper name already in place.
Take lots of pictures - we have digital cameras! I’m not going to lie, I’ve seen some pretty bad pictures. And my first thought is always, how did they think that was good enough? With smartphones and digital cameras, we have the ability to see the picture we just took instantly. So, take a look on the screen, and if it doesn’t look good take another one. And another one. And another one. And another one, until you get the shot you want and will be proud to put on your website. Poor quality pictures not only reduce the visual appeal of your website, but they detract from the quality of your work. You might have a beautiful custom wedding cake, but if the image is dark and blurry, no one will ever know.
When in doubt and you just need images for your site (not product images) use stock photos. If there are places around your website that could use images, but they don’t necessarily need to be personalized from your business, stock photos are totally acceptable. I don’t recommend the aforementioned cheesy photos of people you don’t know in suits. However, there are plenty of websites where you can get great images. Unsplash is my favorite, and images are license-free. Other options are Deposit Photos, and Pixabay. Just make sure that you have the rights to use the photo, no matter which site you use, or you can get into hot water for using them without permission.
One last piece of advice - Squarespace has an image editor, but it’s best to have your image pre-formatted when you upload instead of doing so after the fact. Just follow the tips above, and you’ll be good to go!
Following these steps will greatly improve your website images, no matter the platform you’re using.
It is possible to have great images, even if you’re just using a smartphone! Basically, take the time to make sure your pictures look good before you commit, and your website will thank you for it.
If your small business is in need of a website, or you want a second opinion on the one you have, let’s talk!
I work in an office on my own all day, so I’d be more than happy to chat with you :). I give all of my potential clients a free phone call so we can talk about your needs and decide if we’re a good fit to work together first. Book your call below, and we’ll talk soon!