Smile... You're On the World Wide Web!

So, is a picture really worth a thousand words? If the picture's on your website, it could be worth ten times that many.

Considering that the average visitor spends less than a minute on your website, the design of your site needs to quickly and easily communicate who you are and what you do. When you have a small window of time to say, "I am a friendly, thoughtful, customer-service-oriented business with happy customers," good quality images may be the perfect way to do it!

Including images in your website design is like hanging pictures on the wall: your house may not look bad without the pictures, but it can look so much better with them. Using imagery on a website adds color, breaks up monotonous text, and helps frame what is most important on the page.  And using photography to make the site look better means visitors will stay longer... always a good thing.

But how do you decide what images to use? And how much will this cost anyway?

There are a number of options available to suit any size budget...

  • Smile! You can choose to hire a photographer to shoot some photos that are exactly what you need. If you make a specialty product or own some unique manufacturing equipment, or if your facility or your staff can be a draw for your prospects, this option may be the most effective one for you. A good photographer will provide you with a library of images you can use for your website, print collateral, annual reports and for a wide variety of other uses. (Just be sure to tell them what you're looking for, so you can get what you need.)
  • "Today, the stock market stayed steady..." Another option is to purchase stock photography. And even here, there are two distinct camps: rights reserved and royalty-free.

Rights reserved images are photos that are available for sale by photographers or agencies. The prices can vary dramatically, but if you need a particular high-quality image for a specific purpose, it can be money well spent. Keep in mind that when you purchase a rights reserved photo, you're paying for exclusive rights to use that photo in specific applications, so the cost depends on how you'll use it. You'll need to specify the details of how, when, where, and how often the image will be seen when ordering.

Royalty-free images are photos available for sale by agencies and online vendors. These photos can be sold individually or in sets (for instance, medical or hospital imagery), and are typically less expensive than rights reserved photos. The image quality is still quite good, but because you're not purchasing exclusive use of the photos, remember that the agency can sell the same images to a number of organizations.

A friendly reminder: it's illegal to use any artwork (including photography, clip art, illustrations or paintings) without permission.

When it comes to photography, size does matter.

In imagery, the important thing to keep in mind is the resolution. Just like high-definition TV, the higher the resolution, the sharper the image will be. Resolution is measured in "dpi" or "dots per inch". The higher the resolution (the more dots of color per inch of image size), the better the quality of the image.

For your website, the image resolution standard is 72 dpi because that's the resolution of most computer screens. (If the image you have is a higher resolution, you can use a photo editing program to change the dpi.)

Remember... the images on your site are intended to entice visitors to stay a while, so think about what images will keep people on your site long enough to find out what a great company you are!

Next month, join us as we discuss some e-marketing options you can use to drive more traffic to your site.