Why You Need Great Website Photos

What Story are Your Photographs Telling?

We Ogres love working with high-resolution, high-quality, original website photos in our projects. Sure, we can build a site with those tiny, out-of-focus snapshots you captured on your old flip phone eight years ago, but what is that saying about your organization?

Good Photography Makes Great Websites

One of the first questions we ask our clients when we discuss a web project is, “Do you have existing images you’d like to use?” Here are three of the most problematic responses we hear:

  1. “Yeah, all of our photographs are on our 10-year-old website, just grab those.”
  2. “I’ve got some snapshots on my phone I’ll send you.”
  3. “We aren’t selling products; do we really need photography?”

As much as our writers and editors love to craft beautiful sentences and compelling copy, there’s just no getting around this basic truth: Most website visitors look at website photos before they read. If you want to turn casual viewers into paying customers and engaged brand ambassadors, you need to have beautiful website images.

Now don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying you can simply slap a pretty picture on a website and expect great results. There are three key characteristics of great website photos: they are high-resolution, high-quality and original. When all of these factors are present and balanced, you can expect good reactions from your website pictures.

OgreJevon at 150 pixels
Here’s Ogre Jevon at 150 pixels. Looks okay, right? Click on the image to see how it looks scaled up to modern website photo sizes… Ugh.

Good Website Photos are High-Resolution

In the past, web designers knew that most viewers would visit sites on desktop computers with relatively small monitors, using networks with narrow data bandwidths. This meant we kept images on the small size, often just a few hundred pixels wide. This practice kept websites fast and prevented a number of page layout issues.

Today, visitors to your website might be using a smartphone, tablet, laptop or even a super-widescreen or multi-monitor desktop system. Undersized photos might pass muster on a smallish mobile device but will lead to a visually terrible experience on anything larger than your palm.

At CleverOgre, we design our websites to automatically serve up the optimal image size for the viewer’s hardware. However, this requires starting with large, clear images. As you probably know, scaling a large photograph down to smaller sizes is no problem, but enlarging small photographs leaves a grainy, pixelated mess.

Good Website Photos are High-Quality

Delivering quality is at the core of most companies’ brand promises. After all, consumers want to know that they are shelling out their hard-earned dollars for a worthwhile product or service. However, when the photography on your website is less-than-stellar, it communicates a very clear message: We didn’t care enough to show you our best.

Good website photography does the exact opposite. It shows your products and people in their best light, enticing viewers to take the plunge and sign on the dotted line. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling $2 widgets or multi-million-dollar homes, five-minute interactions or years-long relationships. The photos on your site speak directly to your clients about the value and quality of your offerings.

Don't use website photos featuring that ubiquitous stock photo lady who does not work for your business.
Seen her before? Yeah, so has everyone else who’s looked at website photos.

Good Website Photos are Original

There are a ton of stock photography sources out there. Millions of high-resolution images taken with great cameras in tightly controlled settings — all available at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional photographer. Sounds like the perfect budget-friendly solution, right?

Well … not really. The trouble with stock photography is it’s available to everybody. These services make their money on selling large quantities of photos. Chances are if you like a stock photo for your website lots of other businesses did, too. One of the important factors that affect a website’s ranking is the inclusion of original visual and written content. Just like plagiarized essays earn low marks from college professors (if not an academic inquiry), Google takes a poor view on sites that feature the same great photo that can be found on dozens of other websites.

Human viewers know the difference, too, even if the photo doesn’t scream “I’m a stock image!” When potential customers see the same photograph used on multiple websites they think of your company as just another option. To rise above the noise of a crowded marketplace, great sites need original shots that are relevant to their target audience. And yes, you should update your photographs regularly. Web-savvy customers know what old photos look like, and they will judge you for it. Negatively.

Hire a Good Photographer

So, what’s the best way to get high-quality photography? Hire a high-quality photographer. A talented professional will have the right equipment to create the best photos and, more importantly, has spent their career developing their skills. Good photographers use the right lighting, settings and angles — supplemented with plenty of time fine-tuning in post-production — to make great images. While your viewers may not fully grasp all the factors involved in creating awesome website photos, they know that the finished product speaks to them effortlessly in a very personal manner.

OgreTip: To get the most out of a photo session, be sure your photographer understands your goals and how the images will be used. Putting together a shot list, gathering example images and discussing all the ways you’ll use the photography will give you the best outcome and avoid the need for re-shoots.

Looking for a Great Photographer? We Know a Few!

While we don’t provide website photography services here at CleverOgre, we know several excellent photographers in the greater Pensacola area. Drop us a line and we’ll be happy to discuss sharing our list of talented professional photographers.

If you are a photographer and would like to get on our list, shoot us a link to your portfolio! We’re always looking for other clever creatives to recommend to our awesome clients.