a picture says a thousand words

When you are putting together a website for your small business, there’s no question that content is key.  But one often overlooked component of that content is your choice of images.

My original thoughts for this post were to make it part of the artists on-line series but images are key to any small business website (well any website, really) and unfortunately, are far too often overlooked.

The web is a visual medium and the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” really is true.  Think of all the ways you may want to use images on your site:

  • portfolio samples
  • logos and site graphics
  • picture galleries
  • product catalogues

All of those examples are important to your business.  If your goal is to get somebody to hire you based on your portfolio of work, or to sell 10,000 bracelets next week, or entice people to stay at your bed and breakfast, then it’s critical that you have high quality images to speak on your behalf.

Not that long ago, we all accessed the internet with a dial up connection.  Remember those good old days?  Remember how long it took for an image heavy page to load?  You could go make a cup of coffee while you waited!  Images were kept to a minimum by many web developers to help speed up the load time for websites.  When pictures were used, the image file would be compressed to the lowest quality possible, to make the file size smaller and in turn the download time would be faster.

But, with the advent of faster internet connections those days are gone for the vast majority of us.  That’s not to say that a good web designer/developer won’t try to write the leanest code possible or compress your images and videos to a smaller size – they will and should.  But it does mean that our sites can be more graphic intensive than ever before.

what does this mean?

Use images to your advantage!  If you are using an image to sell your services, products or obtain work, use the best quality ones you can manage.  Far too often I work on sites and am handed images by a client that are poor quality, or badly shot and that don’t represent their business in the best light.  A couple of bad photographs can dramatically affect the perception of your website and in turn, your business.

First impressions and appearances count for a lot.  Don’t forget that first impressions are made in an instant.  You are a professional who works hard at making your business succeed – reinforce that by using the most professional images you can afford so they have a positive effect.

some tips for using images

  • give your web designer the highest quality image files you have.  If they are too big, they will be able to compress them down to an appropriate size while maintaining a good level of viewing quality.  What they can’t do is take a low quality image and make it a better quality image.
  • if you are using photographs to sell a service or product, seriously consider hiring a professional photographer to do it for you – the investment will come back to you in increased sales or business.
  • have the appropriate logo files available for your designer.  If you can provide your designer with a logo in a vector based format (.ai and .eps are popular vector file types), you will save them a lot of time and energy incorporating it into your site design.  Vector based files give us a lot more flexibility with background colours and allow us to re-size your logo without losing image quality.
  • check out stock image sites for high quality images that can be used as generic images on your site or to dress up your blog entries. They can be very inexpensive.

Low quality, grainy images can make your website instantly look dated.  Even if you have an older site but don’t have the budget for a complete redesign, you might be able to dramatically improve the overall look just by swapping out old images for some better quality ones.

So there you have it! Don’t overlook the importance of ensuring you have high quality images for your website – not just in large file size but also in the actual visual quality of the image itself.

And I realize the irony that a post about pictures has only one in it!

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