How to Choose Images for Your Website or Social Media
Images make websites and social media posts more attractive, as well as easier for viewers to read and understand. Images are essential, and you should not underestimate the value of their presence on your social media or website. Images not only bring life and visual appeal to your online presence, but also they are an indication of who you are, what you think, and your attitude, all in a fraction of seconds.
Images have some common characteristics that are similar across all cultures and nations around the world. Here we discuss some of the nonverbal messages of different images.
Almost all images carry an emotion or feeling. Unlike text, which needs to be read in order to be understood and to allow the viewer to make a decision about whether or not they agree with it, for an image, the reaction is almost the same for everybody, and it is instantaneous. For instance, a happy face or a sad face, a beautiful mountain or a burning house trigger the same feelings in almost everybody. When you are choosing images for your website or social media, pay attention to what kinds of feelings you intend to transfer to your audiences. To choose the images, you can always refer to your own emotion. If the image causes a certain feeling for you, it probably has the same effect on your audiences.
Most images have a main object with a background. For instance, a client sitting in a spa or hair salon: The client and her hairstyle are the object, and the surrounding scene or environment of the object is the background of the image. The background has a tremendously important role in presenting the main object of the image.
A strong contrast between the object and the background causes the object to pop and be more prominent.
You may even want to present a product without any background—the same thing we see on Amazon.com and almost all other online shopping catalogs. To get the perfect white or transparent background, you may need to get help from a photographer or an experienced computer graphic designer.
Each color, by nature or by culture, carries a feeling or emotion. Based on your purpose for the image, choose an image with an appropriate dominant color. For instance, If you have a sale, or if you want to entice your audience into action, like participating in a show, yellow or red as the dominant color in the image could be a good option. Yellow is bright and energizing.
Harmony with Other Elements
There may be other elements in your post or website besides images. If you can bring all elements of your website or social media together in harmony, unconsciously your audiences will sense the harmony and see you and your salon or company as an organized, high-class facility. When you are seeing the website or a picture of a salon, unconsciously we think that the salon is either high-end or sloppy. This judgment happens due to the quality and harmony of the elements of the website or picture.
The quality of an image depends on the lighting, contrast, harmony of elements, framing, and relationship to the subject. We get the quality of an image unconsciously, and it almost happens instantly. Our reaction to the quality of an image translates into whether we like or don’t like it. Images make our first impression toward a business and people and services attached to that business. As you may have heard, we don’t get a second chance to make the first impression. Be obsess about the quality of your images and always consult with an expert photographer or an experienced computer graphic designer to retouch your images before posting them on your social media or website.
The banner of your website, Facebook, or other social media is like the sign on a shop, though possibly even more important. It has to encourage people to enter your website or social media and entice them to the desired action, known as a Call To Action.
People like to see other people’s faces, so if appropriate, have at least one face on your banner’s image. Don’t waste people’s time and, in a few words, say what your website or social media is about. Don’t expect people to read you about us page or your service menu pages. Don’t use hard-to-read or super fancy, convoluted fonts. They don’t add any value to your products or services. If you get used to something by seeing it over and over again, it doesn’t mean your audiences will have the same feeling toward that thing, including your fonts and your logo. Make them as simple and easy to understand as possible.
Any movement gets attention, so putting an animated image (animated GIF) gets more attention, but be careful about the size of the animated image. If it is too big, it may take too long to load, especially on mobile devices. A lagging page on your website or social media can detour your potential clients or visitors.
In addition to your audiences, search engines like Google are reading your images and, based on what they get from them, presenting your images to others, potentially giving value and credit to your social media or website.
Tuning your website for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization. SEO ranking determines your position and ranking in the Google search list.
Here are some tips to consider when you are putting images on your website or social media:
When somebody does an image search on Google, Yahoo, or Bing for a specific service or product that you offer on your website or your social media, if the naming of your image is appropriate among other SEO considerations, the image will show up higher in a search list. Also, the right naming of the image will rank your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) higher in the search engine, meaning your company’s name will get a higher ranking in the search engine search.
To name your image, you need to decide what keywords you would like to attach to your image. Keywords are the words that people are likely to use to search for your services or products. The keywords should be as specific as possible; for instance, if your image is about balayage and your salon is in Lynnwood, a good name for the image would be “balayage-Lynnwood-hairstyle-haircut.jpg.” With this name, if somebody is looking for any combination of the words in the name, most likely your image, and consequently your website, would be near the top of the list.
Alternative Name (Alt)
Alternative or “Alt” is the text that shows up while the image or browser is loading. It is also used to allow visually impaired people to read a description of the image. Alt is very important for the search engine and SEO ranking, and they put a lot of value in it. Use a short, informative sentence, and don’t forget to put your keywords in the Alt of your images. For instance, if your salon is in Lynnwood and your image is about balayage, a reasonable Alt could be, “The best balayage hairstyle in Lynnwood, WA, [your salon name].”
Like Alt, each image has a description attached to it as part of what is called “metadata.” If you right-click on an image and check its details, you can see the description. The image description is not the same as the image caption. The caption is the text on top or bottom of the image to describe what the image is about, and it is visible. An image description is not visible to the majority of readers unless they use screen readers like what visually impaired people use. Search engines use descriptions to know the image’s content. When people search for something on the Internet and like to see the images, the search engine uses this image description to select which image to show first in the ranking.
The image size is critically important in loading the image and its quality. If your image is very large in size, it takes forever to load, and if it is too small, you might sacrifice the quality of your image. As we already discussed, images have immediate unconscious effects on your viewers. If your image doesn’t have an acceptable quality, your visitor will ignore your site and leave you with the impression of a sloppy website or business.
Most websites have some rules for the dimensions, resolution, and format of the images. If you follow their rules, you will get a perfect image. However, you still need to pay attention to the size of the images.
How Many Images Are Enough?
For each page or blog post, use at least one image. People love images, and in most cases when they are on a page or social media, they just view images or videos. The more images the better, unless you have an informative page or blog. In that case, images are there just to get attention or to clarify something. So be generous in using images, especially in the beauty business. Beauty is all about beautiful images.
This is a simple technical issue, but many websites don’t allow it. You probably have seen images that, if you click on them, a new window or a website opens. If you like people to see a bigger version of the image with more detail, for instance, in your portfolio, ask your web designer to use a picture gallery so that, by clicking on the image, a bigger version of the image opens on a new page while your website still is open.
Unless you have a very good reason, you shouldn’t make an image clickable, but if you have to make an image clickable, it should not leave your website or blog post. It has to open a new tab or a bigger version of the image on top of the open window.
Using others’ images without permission, and often payment, is illegal, and if you use them and get caught, the owner of the image can sue you. There are lots of websites that sell images in different sizes and at different prices, for any purpose, you intend to use. You just need to do an online search and will find tons of those websites. There are some websites that offer free commercial-use images, like unsplash.com and flickr.com.
When buy or copy images from somewhere, always pay attention to the name and of the images. The name should be descriptive and related to your specific business.
You should be generous in using images on your website, social media, or whatever medium through which you are showcasing your services. Every image conveys some instantaneous emotion, and your audiences will sense it unconsciously in a fraction of seconds. The images of your website or your social media, or even your printing media, give the first impression of your business and your products or services.