the importance of photography for web design

The importance of great photography for web design

Why might website users spend more time browsing and engaging with one particular brand’s website versus another, in the same industry? In this blog, we’ll talk about one of the most important, but subjective, factors which is website photography. And we’ll discuss how it can impact on the user experience for your potential customers.

Using data points to analyse your website’s performance

I’ll talk about some photography specifics shortly, but it’s important to frame the question above with some data points that are less subjective. That will help us make some decisions with both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Let’s start by considering a couple of key performance indicators on how effective and engaging the user experience is on a website – the bounce rate and the average time on page. Both of these data points you can access from Google Analytics, and they can provide you with some useful insight about how your website users interact with your website’s pages.

What is bounce rate?

The bounce rate is a percentage measure of how often your website users land on one page of your website from a search engine result (SERP) and don’t navigate anywhere else on your website. Hence, they¬†bounce off your website. It’s important to understand how to analyse bounce rate on a page-by-page basis. If you’ve developed a marketing campaign, sending traffic to a particular webpage on your site, you might not want your users to navigate to other web pages and so a high bounce rate might be desirable. However, if, for example, users are landing on your home page and it’s a gateway to the rest of your products and services, you will want a low bounce rate, otherwise it’s likely that your users are leaving your website because haven’t seen what they want.

There are a numerous factors that might impact on bounce rate, but in this blog we’ll be focusing on photography and visual stimulation.

What is average time on page?

This measure takes less explanation, and it is accessible in Google Analytics as well. Quite simply, it is a measure that shows the average amount of time your website users are spending on that page when they land there. You might expect your blog posts to have a higher average time on page than perhaps your home page or some of your services pages. Perhaps engaging photography can help keep your website users more actively engaged in the content of your website? Perhaps that will help those website users build trust in your brand.

The importance of photography

As mentioned above, photography is a subjective topic. What one person finds visually interesting, another finds boring. So there is no correct answer. However, let’s assume that some photography is better than none on your website. The next question is: what type of photography should your website include? You can broadly break website photography down in to two categories: 1. photographs of your business, and 2. stock photography. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

Your own business photography

Having your own business photography displayed on your website provides your website browsers with a visual insight to your business. It might show the types of people in the business, the venue, the products. If you’re selling a specific product, you’ll probably want photos of that product so that customers can see what they are buying. If your business is selling a service, then trust is an important factor.

Your own business photography can showcase the people in the business, your place of work and you can begin to tell a story about who you are and how you operate. The purpose of having your own business photography, particularly in businesses selling a service, is to build some emotional connection between your business and your customer. You’re trying to display some of the human characteristics of your business that will help your customers understand whether you meet their needs.

What types of pictures should you use?

This depends heavily on what type of business you are. Naturally, if you’re selling physical products you’ll want to have photos of those. If you’re selling furniture, you might want high quality photos of those products in a staged, but natural environment. Like a living room. If you are a business that sells a service, you might want some business photography that helps build trust with your target market.

Some things you might want to get photos of:

  • Place of work
  • Staff
    • Natural photos at work
    • Headshots
  • Products
  • Your own collection of stock photos
  • Logo and branding in workplace
  • Interaction between your staff and clients

We offer a business photography service. We’ll come and take pictures of your premises, headshots of your people and tell the visual story of your business. And using that content on your website can help to build trust.

Stock photography

There is definitely a time and a place to use stock photography. Some of it can be a little cliche, but having access to a library of photography from thousands of talented photographers means it should be possible to find some photography that fits with some of the language you would use to describe your business. We have an account with Shutterstock and it provides us with a great collection of photography that we can use for our website and for websites we build for our clients.

The importance of A/B testing

So how do you know if having your own business photography, or stock photography, has impact on how your visitors view your website? Well, it’s very difficult to analyse. But, you can try some A/B testing. Perhaps run a trial period in which you have some of your own business photography on one of your web pages and then have another web page without as much of your own photography – or with stock photography, or perhaps with no photography at all. It is going to be difficult to really pinpoint whether there is a direct impact on how long your visitors stay on your website and how they navigate your website. However, if you understand the metrics bounce rate and average time on page, and you can A/B test a couple of different scenarios, you might be able to draw some conclusions.

In summary

I believe that great photography can have a positive impact on your website. It will help catch and keep the attention of your potential customers, and may lead to more enquiries for your products and services. You’ll need to test which type of photography works for you. Use metrics like bounce rate and average time on page to assess changes you make on your website. If you need some photos taken in your business or advice about our web design service, give me a call on 01604 419776.

Author: Tom Jullings

I work with clients to improve the digital marketing experience they present to their customers – from web design and SEO to outreach marketing and social media.

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