When it comes to running a successful website, visual appeal is paramount. Of course, great content is absolutely important in itself too, but it must be presented in an eye-catching way. A visually striking website not only makes a great first impression, but also encourages your customers or readers to stick around. In addition to an effective color scheme and beautiful fonts, images play an extremely important role. However, it is not simply a case of browsing Google Images – there are several different factors to take into account. Whether you run a WordPress blog or an ecommerce store, here are some essential tips for adding images to your site.
1. Establish a Theme
Before you start searching for suitable images, it helps to have a theme in mind. Consider the type of website you have and, most importantly, your target audience. Your chosen images should be relevant to the surrounding content whilst reflecting the overall tone of your site. Humorous, cartoon-like images would not tie in with a professional business website, for example – so think about the impression you want the images to convey. Once you have a theme, try to find pictures that are all of a similar style in order to keep the overall look consistent.
2. Be Aware of Licensing Rules
Just because an image is online does not mean it can be used freely by all. Some images are copyright protected, which means they can only be used with the author’s permission, whilst others are subject to different kinds of licenses. When finding images online, it is essential to check the terms of usage in order to avoid getting into trouble. Fortunately, there are plenty of online databases for license-free images – you can find a comprehensive list here – which allow you to browse and download ready-to-use pictures without any further permission.
3. Position Images Strategically
Once you have located and selected your images, it’s time to incorporate them into your website. For optimal visual appeal, think carefully about the position of each image. If you have a particularly long blog post, an image could be used to break up the body text; on the homepage, however, you might prefer to go for a single header image at the very top. It is also necessary to consider the surrounding content – if the image relates to a certain topic, it makes sense to place it near the corresponding text. Images are best integrated using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) as explained in this tutorial.
4. Choose the Right File Size
Another important factor to consider is image size and resolution. In most cases, images should be used to enhance the text and make your website a bit more interesting, without dominating the entire page. It is therefore best to avoid using overly large images. The use of images may also affect the time it takes for your website to load. Larger image files take longer to load and use up more bandwidth, so when it comes to file size, the smaller the better. Plus, the file format plays a role, so be sure to experiment with JPEG, PNG, and GIF formats to find the best combination of size and quality for your images. It is worth using an image compressor tool to reduce the file size whilst retaining the quality of the image.
5. Assign Meaningful Alt Tags and Titles
If you have a website, you are no doubt aware of the importance of SEO – and images are no exception. When including images, it is essential to give each and every image its own unique alt text and title. Both alt texts and titles enable the search engine to “read” your image and, if you are able to include a keyword, may also have a positive impact on your ranking. In any case, the alt text describes to the user what the image contains if the image itself fails to load, so should be accurate and make sense.
Images are essential for breaking up text, catching the user’s eye and making your web design that little bit more exciting. For more tips on how to make your website stand out, take a look at these 6 Ways to Design Engaging Websites.