If there is one thing you can change on your website that will instantly make your website look more credible and professional – and requires no technical skills, no design skills, and no or minimal cost, would you do it?
My answer will always be — Heck Yeah!
If you have been reading our Tool Tips Series and our Web Design Guides for Beginners, you will know we are big believers of inputting minimal effort to get maximum impact.
This article is another design hack that can quickly & easily upgrade the way your website looks!
Why are high-quality images so important to your website?
If you asked me how to make your website look more professional, the #1 thing I will always recommend is to use better images on your website.
Why? – Because it is the quickest way to upgrade the look and feel of your website with the least amount of work!
Just by swapping in the right images (which I’ll show you how to pick and where to find them), you can instantly
- Make your products more appealing and desirable;
- Make you look more professional and more put-together, so your website appears more credible and trustworthy; and
- Most importantly, it will make your website look more expensive! This is a key improvement since most people associate something is of better quality when it appears more expensive.
Here are some fun facts about how quality and relevant images can improve your audience’s experiences on your website:
This is why displaying high quality and relevant images on your website will not only make your website appear more professional, they will also increase your visitors’ engagement – so it’s win-win for everyone!
Why are you using ugly images on your website?
You might be wondering:
“If it’s really so easy and straight forward – just by using the right images, then why aren’t more people doing it?”
The most common reasons (and complaints) I get are:
- I don’t know how to pick appealing pictures for my website.
- I don’t know where to find nice pictures.
- I don’t want to pay a lot of money to buy professional images.
Does this sound like you?
If it does, keep reading.
I will show you how and where to find the right, eye-catching images for your website.
Image Theory 101 – How to pick the right images for your website?
Picking the right images for your website can be a lot of fun once you know what to look for.
There are 4 criteria you can use when choosing your images.
#1 Use High-Quality Images
Don’t use any fuzzy or pixelated images!
A lot of times I see people use images that are way too small. So when they expand the image to fit the space, the image is stretched and this ends up distorting the image and make it appear very fuzzy.
So make sure you don’t upload a small picture then stretch it to fit the space dedicated for the picture!
#2 Use Unique Images
Stock photos is a great resource if you use it correctly.
However, the worst pictures you can use on your website is the same cheesy photo of a blond hair, blue-eyed model holding a phone that almost every other business website seems to be using.
You don’t want another cookie cutter website, so stop picking cookie cutter images for your website:
Use images that look more real and candid – they connect so much better with your website visitors:
If you are having a hard time finding unique images, why not just take some yourself?
Simply whip out your iPhone and start snapping pictures. There are tons of free photo editing apps that you can use to touch up your pictures.
By the way, we’ll share with you some of the best places to find unique images below.
#3 Use Images that have Meaning
Don’t just pick any random picture because it looks nice.
You want the image to work to your advantage.
Consider using images that show people doing something, or interacting with one another.
These types of pictures give you another way to explain what your website is all about, and with the added benefit of capturing more attention.
For example, instead of just displaying an image of your product, you might want to have an image of someone using or interacting with the product.
For instance, showing a child using a product sends the message of “it is so easy to use, even a kid can use it.”
If you are a service provider, share images of you (or one of your team members) providing the service, or hosting a meeting in real life.
Images that display interactions give your visual content a lot more depth, and can connect very well with your audience.
#4 Use Images with Faces
Have you ever notice that marketers love to use people in their ads?
People are naturally drawn to faces and marketers know that.
When we see an ad with a model who looks straight at you, we will naturally pay extra attention to it.
You can use the same technique on your website if you have some important information you want your audience to pay extra attention to.
Choosing the right images for your website is not rocket science. You just need to remember your audience are just normal people like you. What appeals to you most likely will appeal to them as well.
Simply keep the 4 criteria above in mind when choosing your pictures, and everything will work out just fine.
Selecting pictures is a learned skill. You’ll only get better at it with more practice!
Where you can find professional images
There are plenty of great resources where you can find awesome images for your website, so I’d like to share some of my favorite ones that I’ve used.
Keep in mind that some of these sources are free, and some are paid.
Paid vs Free Images
While the natural tendency is to only look for free images, I use both free and paid as they both serve different purposes.
The free images are referred to as “creative commons”. They’re free for you to download and use on your websites as long as you provide proper credit to the owner of the image (such as citing the source or the name of the person who took the picture).
- Free images usually are less focused and are more creative. You can find more inspirational and artistic images in free resources rather than paid. They are great to use as backgrounds, header images, and mood pictures to help set the tone of your website.
- Paid images usually have more commercial applications that are used in ads and in business websites. While they are not as interesting or inspiring to look at, they tend to serve / satisfy specific purposes. You will generally find more options for business applications. For example, if you are looking for a generic image of people shopping, paid images will give you more choices than free sources.
#1 – Unsplash.com
Free with creative commons – Best free image resource for inspirational, ambient image header, and background images.
Unsplash offers you really high-quality images taken by really talented photographers. This is by far my favorite free image resource.
I’m constantly amazed and happily impressed by the quality of free images Unsplash.com offers.
I personally feel that some of the free images here are on par with paid images.
Almost all the images on Unsplash.com are really on trend. You can be sure to find a really beautiful picture even with your eyes closed – it’s hard to go wrong.
Like most free image resources, the photographs are not created for commercial uses. So you will find a lot of landscapes, objects images and of pretty random stuff. These are great for page backgrounds, header images and in any web pages that don’t have specific commercial applications.
One thing I would like unsplash.com to improve on is the image sorting tool. They have a huge selection of amazing photos. So be prepared to scroll through tons of picture to find the one you need.
Honestly, I’m a horrible photographer. I know I will never be able to take the same high-quality photos that Unsplash.com offers.
So for me, I don’t mind scrolling through tens if not hundreds of photos – I’m just grateful to have this resource at my fingertips, thanks, unsplash.com!
#2 – 500px.com
Free & Paid – Best free image resource for variety & best paid resource for natural professional images.
This is my favorite place to find paid images that I can’t find in other paid stock photo resources.
500px.com has a larger selection of images than Unsplash.com, and the quality is just as good.
I find that the images available here are more artistic, and some of the “real life” shots are much more realistic when compared to the canned pictures from other sources.
Canned pictures look so unnatural and fake – so definitely stay away from them!
#3 – GettyImages.com
Paid – Best paid image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc.
Getty Images is my go-to resource for paid commercial images.
Commercial images mean they work well for all kinds of business.
For example, if you have a pre-school website and you need a photo that shows a kid having fun learning, Getty Images will be the place to find this.
Amongst all the paid images provider, we like Getty the most. They have one of the best selection of non-stock-like photos and graphics.
Some of their images are exclusive to Getty Images so you can’t find those in other stock image resources.
They also have a good search tool that allows you to quickly find the images you need.
Some of their images are exclusive to Getty Images so you can’t find those in other stock image resources.
#4 – Shutterstock.com & Bigstock.com
Paid – More affordable paid image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc
Shutterstock and Bigstock are two separate companies. The reason we’ve grouped them together is because they pretty much do the same job.
Both have very wide range of photos and graphics to choose from and neither are too expensive.
If you run a blog and need images on a regular basis, Bigstock has an affordable monthly plan that allows you to customize the number of images you can download each month.
If you occasionally need images a few times a year, Shutterstock doesn’t require you to sign up for a monthly plan. You can simply buy credits and use them toward whichever images you want.
#5 – Rawpixel
Free (but need email to sign up) – Best free image resources for commercial applications in ads, business websites, brochures, etc
Rawpixel is an excellent place to find beautiful and free images that is very usable for any business websites.
When you are building a business website you want to use images with context. An image with context is an images that tells a story, which creates a much stronger connection with your visitors and also communicates subtly what your business is all about.
For example, if you have a website that sells hearing aids for seniors, this will be a great image to use:
The happy seniors causally and effortlessly conversing with each other is a great home page image for selling hearing aids. It is simple, beautiful and communicates a very powerful message about what the hearing aid product can do – help people enjoy life a little bit more!
This type of contextual images is not easy to find in most free images resources because free image resources mostly focus on inspirational images. You will have a tough time finding a suitable home page image for a retirement home, travel agency, or a lot of other businesses.
This is why Rawpixel stands out for me as an excellent source of commercial images that have very practical application to various types of business websites.
Rawpixel is still pretty new at the time I’m writing this guide, so the selection may be limited as it ramps up its collection. You will need to subscribe before you can download any images. You just need to insert your email address and setup a password, which is very quick and easy.
Honestly, I just started using Rawpixel, but I can already see how useful it will be for any website designer or DIYer who is building his or her business website.
Conclusion – Inject ‘life’ into your website!
Once you know where to look, picking images for your website can be really fun.
It’s hard to just go to one place to find all the images you need. Each resource we’ve listed above has its own strength and weakness. So don’t limit yourself to just one resource.
Check them out and see which one fits your personal style.
Happy [image] Hunting!
Image Resource Recap:
- Unsplash.com: Great inspirational images to use as backgrounds and headers.
- 500px.com: High quality and unique free & paid images to use for any purposes.
- Gettyimage.com: Best paid commercial images that don’t look like unnatural stock images.
- Shutterstock.com & Bigstock.com: Most affordable paid images.
- Rawpixel: Fantastic free commercial images that can be used in a variety of business websites.
Pro Tip: It is best practice to ALWAYS compress your images before uploading them to your website. Image file size is a major factor in how fast your website can load. Here are two free image compress we use:
- Best Image Editors that anyone can use – Choosing a great image editor can save you tons of time. Find out how you can edit Images like a pro!
- Creating Your Own Professional Logo – Check out a few tools (free / paid) to help you create your own logo – without hiring a designer.
- How to Pick the Best Font Design for Your Website – Most people don’t think about picking the right font. Here’s a hint – top designers do. See why.
- How to Choose Your Perfect Website Template Design – Not artistic? No problem. Choosing a design is easier than you think. See our formula here.
- Choose the Right Color Scheme Like a Designer – Not good with picking colors? Or not sure which color combinations will work? See this guide.
- How to Create an Awesome, Professional Looking Home Page – You don’t have to be a gifted designer. Follow our formula to create your home page.
- Coding for Beginners – Learning even a little bit of coding can be useful when customizing your design. Here are some awesome resources we used when we first started out.
- How to Hire a Website Designer, Graphic Designer or Developer – Hiring a contractor can be confusing and scary. Follow our step-by-step guide.
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