This is the second in a series of articles devoted to the basics of creating web content. In the initial post, we explored the idea that learning about yourself in depth is the first step to writing potent web content. In this article, we'll focus on the visual side of your webpage.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It turns out that "they" was actually one person — Tess Flanders, a turn of the 20th-century newspaper editor credited with first using the phrase. Given the age of the saying, "1,000 words" is likely out of date. Adjusting for inflation, a picture in 2020 should be worth just over 25,000 words. Science!
We mention this because photographs and other imagery are critical components of good web content. One compelling image at the top of your website can create immediate associations for your readers.
In a split second your visitor must decide whether to trust what you have to say. Authentic imagery that speaks immediately to who you are and what you're about can go a long way toward creating that trust.
But you can't invent authentic imagery. You collect it organically, and that takes planning.
Creating Web Content Without Using Stock Photography
Stock photos are often the go-to imagery for companies trying to build their own website. They're easy to access, available in hundreds of variations, and have a polish that's hard to beat. We even utilized one for this blog post!
Except that website visitors can see right through them. That's because they have no personal ties to your company. They're generic. They create websites that look great but are indistinguishable from the competition.
Imagine you were visiting a handyman's website. What would you find more compelling? Stock images of carpentry tools or photos of the handyman in action? Would you rather see generic shots of home exteriors or actual photos of previously completed jobs?
Stock images convey what the handyman does, but they tell you nothing about the handyman himself. Does he enjoy his job? Is his work quality? Does he seem trustworthy?
By comparison, one authentic action photo showing him doing a good job with a smile on his face creates instant credibility. Your website's text extols your virtues. Your imagery provides the proof. So how do you generate truly original imagery for your site? You accumulate it over time.
Make Image Acquisition a Regular Part of Your Process
Creating web content doesn't need to be a struggle when you already have the material you need.
Let's check in with our handyman again to see how his process can be tweaked to include image acquisition. With each large job he works on, he should take before and after photos. These are perfect for use in a project gallery.
If the project is particularly interesting he should get a helper to take occasional photos of him in action. He could document critical junctions in the work. He might get shots of him interacting with his customers. If something seems like it might be interesting to future prospects, get it on film.
If you don't think you're a good photographer, that's okay. As the saying goes, you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. The more content you generate throughout your daily business of business, the more likely you'll get that perfect shot or two that perfectly capture what it is that makes your business unique. That's why you make this a regular part of your process.
It's also possible to improve your skills. Here are some tips for taking good photos with the camera you always have with you, your phone.
Once You Have a Collection of Images, What Should You Do With Them?
This is the easy part. Don't do anything except keep them well sorted.
People frequently think that they need to process their images in some way to prepare them for the web. They might shrink them down, crop them, or add some sort of color filter. This is a mistake. You want to keep your images pristine and full resolution. This allows your web developer the latitude they need to manipulate your images to their purposes.
Imagine if the plan is to use a particular image full screen across the top of your website. That can't happen if you've already reduced the image down to a tiny rectangle. What if you tint all of your photos with the blue from your logo and then decide on a different color palette for your website?
You don't want to hamstring future uses of your precious imagery by altering it ahead of time. Do the good work of collection, and then leave it be.
If you're interested in talking more about how proper imagery can make the difference between a boring website and a bold one, give us a call at Puget Tech today. We create magic with customer images every day. We can help you get the shots you need to tell your story the way it deserves to be told. And if you'd like us to tell your story, we can do that, too.