Choosing Your Visuals: How Images & Visuals Can Work for You.

Imagery plays a huge part in pretty much everything you can think of. From branding and marketing to personal identity and credibility. Visuals can help establish your website to an audience and build a rapport with them that can stick long after they’ve left. The question you simply have to ask yourself is “What visuals should I choose?”

1.) What to Look for in A Visual.

Choosing the right visual can make all the difference in how your website presents itself. A dull stock photo may grab a viewer’s attention, but keeping their attention and directing it elsewhere is sure to be another story entirely. To truly make your images stand out for users, you have to take into consideration several factors.

Emphasizing Your Brand.

What is the general vibe of your website? What do you want people to take away from your website with just a simple glance? With Imagery, you can provide a major representation of your brand while answering these questions for your audience. Visuals not only show exactly what you’re about, but how you’re different from other similar brand names, and what identity you want to cultivate to others.

Image of the Papa Johns Website. Note what Papa Johns Emphasizes in their visuals (Source: Papa Johns)

Using Real People and Places.

People are social creatures, and one way of capturing a person’s attention is to show others in ways that are relatable to them or share their interests. Visuals demonstrating real people or places are a good way to grab your audience and keep them around. For an example of the latter, clothing stores like JC Penney are especially fond of showing you real people wearing in-store clothing products. Lifestyle Images (Which we’ll get to later) are an especially notable example of this part.

JC Penney Promotional Image demonstrating real people (Source: JC Penney).

Consistency is Key.

Above all else, keeping a common theme to your work online is practically a necessity for all websites. Maintaining visual consistency will give you an air of professionalism with your audience and enhance the trust of your brand with others. Finding images (along with other design choices) that work for you and your brand will go a long way in selling your website to others.

2.) What Images to Choose From.

With all the above factors in mind, figuring out what kind of images to choose from can potentially be seen as a daunting task. As you may soon find, however, visuals for your website can be easily divided into three major categories. Though these categories can overlap with one another, all of them can fill a very specific niche all to themselves. Let’s list them as follows:

  • Lifestyle Images
  • Promotional Visuals
  • Hero Images

All three visual categories can provide a unique benefit to your website that helps it appeal to users. To better explore these benefits, let’s look at all three individually to better define them.

3.) Lifestyle Images/Visuals

Lifestyle Images are visuals that provide context for the audience.

…Not enough of a description? Okay, let’s dive a bit deeper then. Lifestyle Images are generally used to depict something that the viewer themselves can be capable of doing, or a place that they can visit. Want to show a product that can be used outdoors? Show a picture of a camper setting up their tent! Need to demonstrate a local beach and how fun it would be to visit? Present an image of a happy couple enjoying their time in the sun! Lifestyle Images help the audience for your website visualize what the experience would be like for themselves.

Lifestyle Images are often idealized examples of a brand experience. A user may not have the same sort of moment that such a visual provides them, but the idea is enough to grab the user’s attention. So, with a Lifestyle Image, an individual is likely to see a product or place at the apex and in turn grow an interest themselves.

4.) Promotional Images/Visuals.

Promotional Images are a way to present a product for a customer in much the same way as presenting it in person. Providing a user with as much information on the product as it possibly can. Visuals of this description are more frequently used by online storefronts whose goal is to sell a product, with examples including Amazon, Walmart, and many more.

Promotional Imagery on Amazon for a Headset. Note the product being enhanced for the viewer (Source: Amazon).

Promotional Images often have the most difficult job of any visual, as unlike other visuals the goal is to emulate looking at a product like you would in a physical store. As a result, Promotional Images do so by showing a product at multiple angles, showing close-ups or large size photos, showing the product in use, and showing variations. A clothing product would benefit from showing someone wearing the clothing in question, while a pet store would show a product in use with whatever pet it is for. Above all else, Promotional Images are often used to show the best aspects of a product that it has.

5.) The Hero Image.

Last, but certainly not least, is the Hero Image of a website – perhaps one of the most important visuals you can have for your website. The Hero Image serves as an introduction to your audience, giving them a first impression of what you’re all about and what you have to offer. The image itself can demonstrate a lot of things: a product, a place, people, or even just a nifty visual. But ultimately, the Hero Image is an effective “hello” to your users.

Hero Image for the PlayStation Website, showcasing the recently released title God of War: Ragnarok (Source: PlayStation)

Hero Images are used for far more than just saying hello, however. They can also be used to promote a product or the brand in question. Showcasing new products through a powerful image or video. It can also be a banner demonstrating the values of the website. The way a Hero Image is presented can also prove incredibly versatile: allowing for a minimalist presentation, a presentation with photos, and even experiment with type and font instead.

Conclusion

When building a website for your audience, always take into consideration your choices of visuals and images. Images can provide a unique idea for others of your brand and what you represent. Choosing the right images and keeping them in-line with your ideas can be an effective make-it-or-break-it moment for your website. With the following info, you can make a beautiful and interesting website in the blink of an eye!

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Hi Kenny,

    I enjoyed reading your blog this week, “Choosing your Visuals: How Images and Visuals can Work for you.” What I found to be most valuable was how you broke your blog down into short sections, even using numbered lists. This added to the blog’s overall organization and made the blog easy to skim through. I thought the sections on lifestyle images, promotional images, and hero images were interesting and I appreciated how you gave visual examples of each.
    https://www.getfeedback.com/resources/ux/10-things-to-know-about-images-in-web-design/ gives several more examples of using images successfully on the web.

  2. Hi Kenny,

    I enjoyed reading your blog! I really appreciated how you dove into each type of images: lifestyle images, promotional images, and hero images. I didn’t think about how there was a difference between all of these images, but each type of visual has a distinct purpose and goal in mind. It made me realize how strategic visuals are, and how each visual should be considered in its ability to persuade or dissuade a user. Here is a link to more information about hero images, since most of us will likely need to find a good hero image for out intercultural website project. https://www.optimizely.com/optimization-glossary/hero-image/

  3. Hey Kenny, I really liked your blog. I like how you broke down the difference between hero, promotional, and lifestyle images. The clear description and examples helped me understand what makes each category unique and when to use one of these photos. When we work on our website I will remember to look back at your blog as a reminder of this information. I also like how you connected the use of images and a brand’s image. I found a blog that discusses brand imagery. It basically talks about how the images you use affect how the audience views your website. Here is a link! https://99designs.com/blog/tips/brand-imagery/.

  4. Hey Kenny! Great blog this week. I like how in depth you were with all of the different types of images and how they can serve your website. I think your tips about using real places and real people as well as being consistent are really important and not something everyone thinks about. This is another site that I found with more tips on finding the right images for your website.https://www.g2.com/articles/choosing-the-best-images-for-websites

  5. Hi Kenny! I really enjoyed your blog for this week. I like specifically that you talked about consistency. When making visuals, it can really throw a user off if every visual is presented in a different way. Keeping professionalism is essential in building credibility as a company. I also liked that you talked about using people. Even thinking about how when I shop online, I am more inclined to purchase something if it shows a person with the item. It creates a level of relatability from user to brand. Something I found interesting when researching visuals is the importance of alt text when using images on a website. Here is a resource more about that aspect:
    https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/image-alt-text

  6. Hi Kenny, this was a great blog. I really like that you chose to make your blog more of a step-by-step, how to blog, this is a great guide for the class to choose great visuals in our own projects. I like how you connected the audience to lifestyle images because the purpose is to attract the user, as you said. Your section about promotional images was also very insightful and allowed me to pay attention to what I look for in an image when shopping online. I found this website which may be helpful in building a visual brand: https://www.spectrio.com/marketing/building-out-your-visual-brand/

  7. I really appreciated the visuals in this blog post. It makes sense that you would need to include strong visual examples when actually talking about types of images in web design, and I would say that these examples make it much clearer (to me, at least) what the different types are. I’ve seen them before, but I did not know the names for them. Overall, imagery is important to any website, and your blog post goes into detail about why that is. This article does the same: http://www.thoughtmechanics.com/the-importance-of-images-in-web-design/

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