Using Photos On Your Website

by John Hoff on June 13, 2008

website photos
Image by carf

Photos on your website are a great way to convey a message or tell an instant story to your website’s visitor.

These photos are part of your sales tools.

Of course if you have products you’re selling, you should include pictures. But I’m talking about pictures that tell a story to your visitor. The ones that spark emotional responses.

Be sure, however, the picture will convey the response you want your visitor to have. A poorly lit, slightly out of focus, or too busy photo may give your visitor a confused feeling. I have a saying which if you follow my blog, you’ll probably see quite often: a confused mind always says no.

Pictures Of Faces

One of the most powerful photographs you can use to tell a story are pictures of faces. Perhaps it’s because we can relate to people and can read their expression and reminisce about times we’ve had that face.

Close ups of facial shots are better than ones people have to pull up their glasses, lean toward the screen, and squint to see.

Getting your visitor to relate to content and images on your website is a great way to gain a little trust from your visitor. And when your customers trust you, they will buy – even if you don’t offer the best deal in town.

Pictures Of Product Use

Another powerful image you can convey to your website visitor is the use of showing a person using your product in a way that makes their lives a little easier. If you’ve done your marketing right, you’ve attracted a person who actually needs your product or service. So show them how your product makes the person in the photograph’s life a little easier.

Your site’s visitor should then relate in some way and move themselves one step closer to purchasing from you.

Things To Remember

Number of pictures

Be careful how many pictures you use on any give web page. Pictures take time to download and can slow up load time of your website. As a general rule, if your website takes longer than 4 or 5 seconds to load, many people will click away.

Also, too many pictures that aren’t product-related can cause a distraction and in turn hurt your chances for a sale. Pictures should enhance your content and not the other way around (unless your site is about art or pictures or something of that nature).

Content is king. Pictures are not.

Files Sizes

Keep your picture file sizes to around 100k or less. If you must show large pictures for some reason, then create a smaller version of the picture and make it clickable to the enlarged version for people who are interested to see.

More Tips

  • Remember print photos don’t always work as well on websites as they do shown in person.
  • Use programs like Fireworks and Photoshop to resize photos and optimize them for quicker load times. An easier program to use might be Faststone Capture.
  • Sometimes it’s ok to tell your reader what you want them to read into your photo by adding a caption to it.
  • If you place a photo on a web page that people are likely to print out, make sure the photo looks decent in a black and white print.
  • Crop out distractions in photos that take away from the message you’re trying to tell.

Finding Photos To Use On The Web

Here are a few places you can find photos to use on your website:

Skellie wrote an excellent article entitled A Complete Guide to Finding and Using Incredible Flickr Images which you might also find useful.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara Swafford June 15, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Hi John,

I use Flickr. I’ve checked some of the other ones, but for me it’s the least time consuming to use one source, and thus far Flickr has worked well.

Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Most Bloggers Are Quitters – Are You


Theresa June 16, 2008 at 4:55 pm

Hi John,
There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. I believe that is very true. I think creating a descriptive title to a photo makes certain your picture is interpreted correctly. What a great photo above, the eyes tell it all!


John Hoff June 16, 2008 at 5:19 pm

@ Barbara – Flickr is cheap (ok, it’s free), easy, and there’s a lot to choose from. That’s where I typically pull photos from for my blog, however, if we’re talking about photos for a business website, Flickr probably wouldn’t be the best choice.

@ Theresa – I love that photo above. The photographer really told a story with that one simple shot.

John Hoff’s last blog post..Reading Between The Lines


Keith Davis October 9, 2009 at 10:26 am

Hi John
The Skellie article is one that I’d found already and it is a brilliant guide to using Flickr with lots of examples.
The section on using creative commons search and then clicking the “most interesting” is fantastic… never would have found it myself.
I’ve started to use Flickr for free photos since reading the Skellie article.
I’ve also contacted various photographers who have photos on Flickr, which are not creative commons, some have allowed me to use their photos. It’s always worth asking!
.-= Keith Davis´s last blog ..easy peasy! =-.


John Hoff October 11, 2009 at 8:39 am

Hi Keith. I’ve done the same (asking Flickr users if I could use their images). Although I’ve only asked a small handful, most have said no, but one did say yes.


Jude January 8, 2011 at 2:02 am

Pictures really do make a blog look 10 times better, when I first started blogging I only used text and it looked plain and boring.


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