Designing with a Vision

August 2018
 minute read
pair of red translucent glasses

We know, we know, you’ve heard it a million times before: a picture is worth a thousand words. Today the web is absolutely saturated with images. It’s like standing in a crowded room where everybody’s talking at once. So how do you make sure your website stands out?

It’s pretty simple, really:

  • Choose images carefully
  • Consistent doesn’t have to mean boring
  • Place images in the right spot

Make It Mean Something

Choosing Images That Fit

A study conducted at MIT in 2014 concluded that the human brain can process an entire image in as little as 13 milliseconds. In the context of web design, that means having the right image is essential. It’s particularly important on the internet, where people are more likely to skim through copy than read it thoroughly. Strong visuals can earn your users’ trust, increase your conversion rates, and make sure that your message hits home even if visitors don’t read every word on your page.

upclose eye
Our brains can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds, which means you don’t have a lot of time to make a good first impression. Make your images count!

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If you want to choose effective images, keep these things in mind:

  • People like people. Including photographs of individuals and teams will make your site more interesting and engaging.
  • Bigger is better. Nobody likes a blurry image, so make sure you’ve got a nice, crystal clear shot that will make a good first impression.
  • Stay on brand and on message. There’s a reason that people everywhere admire Apple’s design regardless of how they feel about Apple products themselves. Think about what message you want to convey, and make sure every image on your site speaks to that goal.

Shake Things Up

A Little Variety Goes a Long Way

No matter how great your images are, if they’re all pretty much the same your website won’t be very effective. For example, if your website focuses on protecting the koala bear’s habitat and you only use photographs in your design, your page is pretty quickly going to start looking like koala’s personal Instagram account. That may be cute, but it isn’t very compelling. Keep your visitors engaged by incorporating a number of unique but complementary visual elements into your design.

produce sales stand
In order to make a good smoothie, you need to have different kinds of fruit. In order to make a good website, you need to have different kinds of images.

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Don’t be afraid to explore a variety of image types, such as:

  • A compelling logo. In many ways, your logo is the face of your company. More people see this specific image than any other image you’ll post. Invest some time in making sure it conveys the message you want it to.
  • Photographs. Make sure they’re clear, professional, and specific to your company. Generic images just won’t do here.
  • Icons. Think clip art, but a little more elegant.
  • Infographics. The visual appeal of an image with the informative nature of text. Infographics are a great way to make sure visitors don’t miss the key points you’re trying to convey.
  • Graphs, tables, and charts. If you have data that can be summarized well in a graph, going through the effort of producing a whole infographic probably isn’t necessary. While somewhat less flashy, these methods of displaying data can be equally effective.

Location, Location, Location!

Sizing Up Page Space

Once you’ve got some A+ images picked out, it’s just a matter of putting them on your page, right? Well, kind of. There’s a little more to it than that. It turns out that the portion of your website that is visible “above the fold,” or the part that visitors can see without scrolling, is the most valuable real estate on your site. You want to make sure that this part of your website is aesthetically pleasing, but it probably isn’t the best place to drop your biggest image files. Make sure you include some compelling copy in this area of the page so that visitors will be enticed to scroll and see the rest of your site.

graph about the percent of viewing time in relation to the pixels from the top of the page
According to this study conducted by Jacob Nielson, website users spend about 80% of their time above the fold and only 20% below it.

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To find the best place for your image, consider:

  • Type of image. If your image is pretty simple, it could function very well above the fold by highlighting your important copy and calls to action rather than competing with them. If the image is busier, it’s probably best to move it further down.
  • Size of image. Starting the page off with an image so large that visitors have to scroll just to see the whole thing usually isn’t a good way to go. Try to keep images above the fold smaller, if at all possible.
  • When in doubt, stick it at the bottom. While visitors spent most of their time viewing content above the fold, there’s still something to be said for putting images at the bottom. Viewers tend to pay most attention to the top, skim for a while, and start paying attention again at the bottom of the page. This makes the bottom of the page a great place for compelling images that might not have worked for above the fold.

With these tips in mind, you will be able to create a website with images that truly stand out. Feel like the rest of your site could use a little revamp to compete? Check out Responsival to learn more about affordable website design options that look amazing on every device.


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