With an increase in the volume of content available online, there are still a large number of websites providing inauthentic material. Such websites use exaggerated and unsophisticated stock images that create no connection with readers.
To connect with the viewers of your website, it is important to use images that feel authentic. This allows visitors to interact with you and your website on a personal level. Do you often feel stuck when trying to select images for your website? This article explores why authentic imagery is important, and the effect it has on your audience.
What Are The Characteristics Of An Authentic Image?
As a designer, you have to rely on several image sources in your job; therefore, finding appropriate imagery is an essential part of designing a website. This is because an authentic image will draw readers to the content, and encourage them to connect with your brand. The fine line between turning away or attracting users to your website lies in the authenticity of your brand message, content and the images used.
If you feel overwhelmed or confused when selecting images, you can enlist the services of an online freelancer who knows their way around web design. An authentic image is one that resonates with your audience, by evoking a sense of realism and connecting them directly to your intended message. It is important to note that it is not a prerequisite for an authentic image to be real; a custom cartoon can also connect your audience to your message. You can also look into using an illustration, photograph, or video.
Authentic images fit with the characteristics and needs of your target audience. Your website should allow users to express themselves through the stories represented by the images, by encompassing both action and emotion.
In your work as a designer, you will notice the pressure to produce authentic images when designing a website. This is one of the main ways your work will gain, and retain, its relevance to your target audience. With this in mind, is demanding and getting authentic images as easy as it looks?
When it comes to developing authenticity, the custom imagery will make the most contribution. Therefore, having an expert freelance photographer in your arsenal will go a long way to creating custom images, and getting the desired effect. If you are unsure of what photos or videos you need to take, consider the following pointers:
For the “Contact Us” page of your website, take both group and individual photos of your staff. The individual shots are important, because it gives the staff members the space to display their true personalities.
It is likewise important to capture photos of the work environment as your employees go about their daily duties. Keep it as real as you can! If possible, take photos outside the workspace, or at a well-known landmark close by. This will add a sense of belonging and identity.
You can also take advantage of your user base by creating a mosaic created from images submitted by the users. This mosaic can get posted on a popular social media platform, such as Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.
Take photos of your products that can work for both your online sales page, and on your homepage. Images of your products in a studio setting are for advertising and sales. Those for your homepage should be your customers interacting with your brand, by using the products offered.
Regardless of whether you take the images yourself or choose to hire a photographer, it is important to think about the pictures you want associated with the message of your brand. The photos should be able to tell a story: the story of your brand. Make sure the person tasked with the job of taking the photographs understands the concept and project objectives fully. This enables your vision to become fully realised.
Stock Images As An Alternative
There are instances where custom photography is not applicable or available, mainly because of impending deadlines and restricted budgets. Cue stock photograph! If you feel stock imagery is full of forced or staged images, consider hiring a freelance designer who will assist you to get authentic stock photos.
For a quick guide to selecting authentic stock images that fit your brand’s profile, consider the following:
Make sure the image bears the appropriate emotion to convey your message. The emotion should also be relevant to the context of the image. For example, if the image features people in an interesting activity, the facial expressions should reflect happiness.
Do not select close-ups and images of people’s faces. The reason is that the image will be out of context, because the subject of the photo bears no affiliation to your brand.
Go for images that show motion or action, as opposed to photos with no animation.
Steer clear of images with people drawing charts and tables, or holding signs.
Select images in sharp focus, and with a sense of depth and balance in their composition.
The images you select should not look staged. This means it should not contain a multitude of elements that get mixed unnaturally. The main purpose of authentic images is to represent realism; therefore images with unnaturally combined elements will not be appealing.
The criteria for the selection of authentic imagery also applies to video content. If the video selected carries no emotion or fails to tell the story of your brand, using it will be detrimental to your efforts of achieving interaction on your website. In the same way that authentic imagery connects to the viewers, videos also need to. When considering videos, it is advisable not to go for artificial scenes and cartoons; neither encourage strong connection.
Capturing Your Target Audience
If website design gets done properly, you do not have to use a lot of images to promote authenticity. Well-chosen images on your website will allow you to use fewer of them, but they will speak for themselves. A small collection of well-thought-out images will do a better job than many randomly selected images.
Ensure the end product will create significant visual emphasis, and pull in more readers. This, combined with high-quality written content and strong calls-to-action, will increase your website’s level of interaction.
As a designer, one of the things you will rely on when looking for an authentic image is your gut feeling or intuition. If this does not feel like second nature to you, it is advisable to seek a second opinion. The basic things to consider when asking for a second opinion is how the image makes you feel, and what it makes you think about your target audience. This will help you to analyze whether the objectives of your website have been achieved. If this is not the case, go back to the drawing board and come up with another strategy.
Do you have more tips that worked for your website design? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.