I used to work as a clerk at a gourmet prepared food shop, and they sold sandwiches for something like $9 each. People didn’t even hesitate to pay that price probably because they were tourists or they valued the exquisite food that we made. Anyways, when I was first working there I used to glob dijon mustard on sandwiches like it was mayo. My boss saw this one day and asked, “Did he ask for excessive amounts of dijon?” I replied with a hesitant, “Uh no, why?” She had me taste some dijon, and from then on out I put on easily one tenth of what I used to spread on. I can laugh about it now, but I still feel bad for all of those unfortunate souls that paid $9 for a sandwich only to have a horribly unpleasant facial expression of shock with eyes wide open. I learned that more is not always better.
This same concept applies to the web; you can’ just take a page, plaster it with pictures, and expect it to be better. There is definitely a sweet spot with regards to how much is too much and how some is better than none.
You need to use photos properly to enhance your writing. Excellent pictures will do the following things:
- grab a reader’s attention
- increase their interest
- further communicate your point
Photos need to be used in conjunction with quality writing in order to further captivate your audience. Some writers are able to create superb content without any graphical aids, but I’m sure that if they included appropriate pictures within their writing, it would make it that much better. Additionally, pictures opens up a whole new market – image search. Take advantage of the opportunity to gather more traffic to your website. You can’t sell yourself short in such a competitive time.
Which version of our website is more appealing? Professional? Involving?
It’s a pretty obvious decision that the version with pictures is a lot more lively, engaging, and interesting.
I used to include no photos whatsoever and the occasional graph when appropriate, such as when I showed how a Google penalty can affect your traffic. I realized since then that images can greatly improve the message you are trying to get across. The problems I struggled with when trying to incorporate photos were: where do I get these pictures from and what images should I use where?
Where do I get these pictures from?
- Websites: Flickr’s creative commons, stock.xchng, MorgueFile, EveryStockPhoto, iStockPhoto – You might have to pay for quality stock photos sometimes, but the price is well worth it.
- Take photos yourself if possible – Being able to tailor photos to your exact needs can have a significant difference in their effect, and it will save you the time of hunting for that perfect picture.
What images do I use where?
Stock photos should be used to enhance the point you are trying to get across. Just because a picture looks fantastic, it does not mean it will work well with your content. The counter-side to that is don’t use generic or overly used images; they look boring and add nothing. The pictures you use should essentially flow with your content while adding a new depth at the same time. There are plenty of other things you’ll need to avoid when you use stock photos, but that’s not what I’m trying to address right now.
There are 3 different types of images that you can include in your content: thumbnails, additive, and informational. Thumbnails connect to your text but in a vague manner; there main purpose is to spark interest from your visitors. Additive pictures are similar to thumbnails, yet they have a stronger link to your content and add another dimension. For instance, if you are writing about chocolates, you might insert a tasteful photo of Godiva’s chocolates along side your text. Informational images are essentially a graphical tools that helps develop your position. You could include a graph instead of a table because it allows your readers to better visualize the data. All convey a varying amount of information to your reader from “look at me” to here are the statistics behind my claim.
Pictures are an extremely powerful medium and if used properly they give your content an increased punch of delivery. Utilize photos to their full potential, but remember to use them in moderation such that you don’t dilute their bonuses.