Using Images in Web Sites

Are you interested in displaying photos in the design of your website? Good for you! When done right, photos in the design itself can really give your web site a finished, impressive and very professional look. They can make what could have been an ordinary, mundane or downright boring looking site stand out in the crowd and give your visitors an exceptionally eye catching visual experience. This helps to bring them back to re-visit and the desire to pass along your web site’s URL to others. As we all know, word of mouth can work wonders for just about anything or it can pave the way for the need of some pretty extensive damage control.

Displaying Your Own Photos

Some people like to (and some insist on) using their own photos which can be really good … or really bad. Sometimes it’s absolutely appropriate to use photos you take yourself or have a friend or relative take for you. Before you go down this road it’s a good idea to take a really good objective look at the photos you’ve taken before you decide to use them on your website. Keyword here is “objective.” For some people that’s a very hard thing to do and even harder for someone else to convince them to let go of their attachment to their pet photos and open their eyes to reality. Home made images and photos taken by inexperienced shutterbugs with inexpensive digital cameras don’t always make for the best looking web sites.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my years designing websites it’s that people tend to get unbelievably attached to their own design ideas floating around in their heads, the photos they’ve taken or graphical images they’ve created themselves. They’re literally not able to look at the overall in an objective manner. They don’t see the graininess, the washed out colors, the blur in the shots, the home-made look or (gasp!) the red eye effect.  They’re blind to the fact that the colors they’ve used to draw their own logos aren’t contrasting but clashing and may be even painful to the eye to look at.  They’re so busy being proud of what they’ve dreamed up or produced that they don’t see it like a more objective (and sometimes more critical) eye would see. I’ve been sent photos that I wouldn’t put in a personal scrapbook let alone display on a website and graphic images created in Microsoft WORD (eeks!) that to be very blunt, my school aged grandkids could draw better.

I do admit there are some folks out there who are absolutely dynamite with a camera and have sent me photos that I wouldn’t mind hanging on my walls in fancy frames. I’ve had images sent to me that blew me away and I thought I was looking at work done by a professional graphic artist. The home-grown, self-taught artists are out there, but these folks are few and far between.

I’ve been accused of altering photos and images, changing their colors or any number of other things (I plead Not Guilty!). What these folks don’t realize is that their photos and images can look very different online in their website even if nothing has been done to alter the original. They don’t understand that the colors they see on their own computer can be oh-so different when they see them on their work computer. Graphics cards and other computer components are not created equal and the end result is that there isn’t a website out there that will look the same on different computers.

But I Can’t Afford a Professional!

Most people and small businesses are not able to or willing to pop for the cost of hiring a professional photographer or graphics designer. Without so much as looking into it, they jump to the conclusion that they’re too expensive. I’ll bet that hiring a professional isn’t as far of a reach as you think. I happen to know a professional photographer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and the way I look at it is that if Peggy’s not expensive, there are other photographers who aren’t either. I work with Keith Doles, a graphic designer located in Jacksonville, Florida who is another more than reasonably priced professional.

You have to be willing to step back and take a really good look at your own photos and artwork. If you can muster the honesty within yourself and find that you really need to move away from using your own artwork and pictures then what you need to do is to do some research, make some phone calls, send some emails, ask some questions, get some feedback from others and above all else, keep an open mind. It’s important that you truly grasp the understanding that in order to have a professional looking website, you may have to fork out a little green stuff to make that happen or take the chance that the money you’re paying your web designer isn’t going to make a hill of beans of difference if the photos and images aren’t up to par. But remember, doing this doesn’t have to break the bank.

The question should not be “How can I afford a professional?” but rather “Can I afford to NOT hire a professional?”

Are There Other Alternatives?

You may not want to hire a professional for any number of reasons. But if you do and if you can’t find one local enough that you can afford or aren’t even willing to look into hiring a pro, Stock photos and images can not only rescue the look of your website but keep you safe you from embarrassment. I’m going to beat you to the punch here, stock images are NOT always expensive. Can they be? Of course! But the bottom line is, they don’t have to be. I use several stock photography and image sources when building websites and can fully attest to the fact that there is some very talented work to be found at prices that will pleasantly surprise you. I’ll bet you didn’t know that you can get some pretty darn fantastic photos and images for just a few dollars!

The moral of the story here is don’t just assume that professionalism is going to cost you big bucks. Any good web designer is going to have resources in different price ranges that they can pull from to put together a web site for you that can make all the difference in the visual effects.

Think about this, the people that hit your website are getting an impression of you and/or your business. Impressions can go in at least two different directions. One way is the way you want to go, the other way is one you need to detour around. What impression do you want to give them? Remember … actions speak louder than words but so do pictures.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *