One of the most important aspects of website design lies in the visual appeal. Being a graphic designer I take great interest in a site that looks visually stunning through the use of photography and imagery. And the the old adage a ‘picture paints a thousand words’ is definitely something to take on board when choosing images. website photography or creating images for a website. More often than not images take second place to the text on a site, which is understandable. After all it’s the text the the Google spiders crawl when indexing a site. However if all website design included little to no imagery the internet would be a very drab place.
When speaking to clients about photography or image content for their website design I tend to establish fairly quickly whether they can provide their own photography. More often than not, over the years, this is not the case so time is spent looking for good quality, relevant photography in photo libraries on the internet. This is almost an art in itself as chasing great images takes time, patience and perseverance!
Make It Your Own!
I think most would agree that ideally you want to have your own photography up on your own website. This brings something unique to the page and gives creedence to the information on the site. Never more so than on the ‘About Us’ page. Engaging photos of the directors/team/staff members will add personality to the site giving a face to a company ultimately helping create trust. Remember customers do business with people not websites.
The right photography will really help create a mood and engage with the viewer. Give the viewer something great to look at!
I’ll Take Care of the Website Photography
An option I’ve used many times is to take my own photography for the client. Countless times I’ve turned up on site in a company warehouse, factories, business premises with camera and snapped away. Again, this is ideal as the photography is unique to the client. This is a handy way to go about things as I can go about getting the photography I know I’ll need for the website. It’s also a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the client, sevices and products they offer. Handy when it comes to branding, design work and the website design that is to be undertaken.
This is especially true for product photography for an Ecommerce site. The website photography here is critical if the products are to presented in a good light. It’s no secret that good photography helps sell a product. In particular, good and effective product photos should encourage users to buy those products. In the past I have been involved in taking photography for Ecommerce sites and enhanced the photos with some Photoshop manipulation.
Are Photo Libraries Any Good?
When using photo libraries it’s vitally important the time is taken on choosing the right photography. Imagery that represents the client and his or her business in a favourable light. To be honest there is a ton of great photography within photo libraries but choosing the right picture to represent the brand takes patience and an eye for design. Ultimately it is crucial the website photography is right.
A big advantage of stock photography is the fact you don’t need to worry about copyright. This is a big issue as it’s copyright infringement to take images off other websites without permission. Something that many people forget when they trawl Google images for that perfect photo.
AI Generated Images
Since September 2023 there has been a new way to create free images using prompted instruction via DALEE-3 which is an online AI art tool. Also known as ‘prompt engineering’ instructions can be given to create any type of image. DALL-E 3 is the latest version of Open AI’s DALL-E Image Generator. This new version has an amazing ability to understand and interpret natural language prompts, allowing translation of an idea (prompt) into a highly accurate and detailed image.
No matter how strange the instruction the AI generator will produce a highly detailed rendering of the request. The image below was the result of a prompt ‘Futuristic Android Painting a Sunflower’. This was quite a general prompt however the more detailed the instuction the more refined the image will be and true to the instruction given. This prompt could also include an artistic style to add an axtra dimension. DALL-E 3 comes integrated with ChatGPT, making the creative process even smoother, however you can create Free images via DALL-E within the search engine ‘Bing’.
Interestingly when prompted with an idea, ChatGPT will automatically generate tailored, detailed prompts for DALL·E 3 that really will bring your prompted idea to life. If you like a particular image, but it’s not quite right, you can ask ChatGPT to make tweaks with just a few words.
Like any AI content creator power comes with responsibility. OpenAI has implemented safety measures to prevent the generation of harmful, distateful or pornographic content, and it’s important to respect these guidelines.
From Google’s Point of View
It’s also worth seeing an image from Google’s point of view with the Google’s Vision AI Tool. This tool allow you to identify in % terms how Google see’s an image. This in turn allows you to identify how an image could help your on page SEO or not in some cases. This really does show how an image can promote the topic on the page in question and how important the choice of image is. It’s down to what Google recognises in a picture so choose wisely.
Photoshopping the Photography
It’s incredibly rare for me to upload any image or photograph to a site I’m working on without any retouching or manipulation in some way in Photoshop. This piece of software is amazing and in the right hands can help create some mind blowing imagery or simply used to enhance colour, make the sky bluer, simple retouching or go on to be used to create full blown illustrations that really enhance a website design.
However, retouching is a given and a whole article dedicated to Photoshop would probably not scratch the surface regarding the debate on Photoshop image manipulation. However, what I would say is that Photoshop can really help enhance an image as well as creating eye catching photo montages. Photoshop artwork can really bring a web page to life giving it real punch, elevating it from simply ‘being a page with some text and a couple of photos’.
Lately I did a series of photo montages for Pixy Natural Skincare recently which are featured in the slideshow gallery on the home page. These were all generated in Photoshop. These images are heavily manipulated and calculated to showcase the products in the best light. Fusing the product shots with portraiture thus giving the products a softer, human element. Including a face or portraiture is a useful and effective way of grabbing users’ attention. The consumer is liable to relate more to a product image that includes a human dimension.
Social Network Graphics
The handy thing is the photography, graphics and Photoshop montage work used on the website can then be used in Social Network articles. It’s not unusual to see a graphic in an article up on the website then see it on a Facebook post or Instagram gallery. I’ve done this hundreds of times where the same image or grahic is used on the website then appears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alongside the article. In fact one way of obtaining more engagement with an article on the Social Networks is to include an image for the simple reason being an image helps the article stand out amongst all the other posts. Especially if the image is eye catching and helps tell the articles message.
Overall an eye-catching image can be used to represent an article or page, drawing the user’s attention to the content in question. If implemented successfully photography can really communicate a message far quicker than a line of text. Visually communicating the call to action quickly and clearly, helping convey the concept.