How do I select effective images for my website? [Quick Tip Videos]

This is the first in a series of video tips that will explore frequently asked questions from our customers. Today, we asked Tyson Kingsbury, Creative Director of Veriday, how to select effective images and photos for a website. He offers his advice in the video below.

 

What did you think of our video? Did you learn anything about how to select effective images and photos for your website? Do you have any questions for Tyson or anyone else at Veriday? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ and use the hashtag #AskVeriday.

4 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Web Site Photos

This post was authored by Kristen Harad and originally appeared here on GuideVine.

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Many Financial Advisors struggle to differentiate their firms and stand out in the crowd. Often times, this is best illustrated through your Web site. If you notice any of these four signs, it may be time to get an imagery makeover.

4 Signs You Need to Update Your Web site’s Photography:

1. Your home page’s first picture is a happy silver-haired couple gazing wistfully at the horizon dreaming of their retirement.

2. You see the same image on five other Financial Advisors’ home pages, all within your city limits.

3. Your primary audience is growing families and you still show active seniors, golf courses, or Adirondack chairs on the beach.

4. You don’t actually have any images on your site.

Inspirational images like sweeping scenery and active seniors help to convey the lifestyle that 80-90 percent of the population would probably like to eventually achieve, but do these types of photos help you speak to your ideal client?

Advisors use this type of generic imagery for two main reasons: (1) they want to be sure they do not exclude any potential prospects and (2) they are the default images set from their web provider.   Based on the presumption that most people’s financial goal is to retire to a life of financial comfort, the ‘silver fox’ or tropical vacation photos convey that this is what the Advisor can help clients achieve.  Whether or not your audience is 25, 45, or 65, everyone ultimately wants the same thing.

Unfortunately, this is not only the most widely deployed marketing strategy but also one of the least effective. By casting such a wide and inclusive net, this style of communication puts the burden on potential clients to figure out whom you best serve and if you are the right professional to help them with their unique challenges. Retirement planning is of course one part of the financial planning equation, but for many clients it’s not the reason they are seeking a planner’s help.  They have many bridges to cross before that stage of life.

How important is photography?

Expert marketers care about the images they use because images draw people in. With the right photos, you can increase the probability that you will attract the right people for your practice.

When I worked at a large New York Ad agency, we spent countless hours assessing each detail of every photograph we would use in an ad or a direct mail piece, just to be certain it resonated with the client’s target audience.  How much grey hair should he have? How many wrinkles? What ethnicity? What clothes would he wear? What’s happening in the background? Is that a place he would be? What expression fits the brand? Are they too ‘happy’? Are they believable? If we had a photo shoot, where we crafted the image – then 100 times as much detail, and even more patience, came into play.

Where to Find Inexpensive, Quality Photos

The good news is that while ad agencies can spend thousands of dollars to get one photo “right,” the Web offers a proliferation of quality photos at reasonable prices.

  • Istockphoto – Select your price range from $ up to $$$$ and sizes from Small to XL. With credits you purchase, you’ll access one of the widest ranges of quality photos offered online.
  • Bigstockphoto – You can subscribe to receive a flat number of photos per month (good for a frequent blogger) or buy photos as needed. This service offers modern, intriguing photos to brighten up your site.
  • Unsplash – this unique site offers free images, no strings attached. You pick from what is posted, and you can use it any way you like. They post 10 new photos every days. You never know what you’re going to find, but you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.

Remember, while many clients do aspire to spend their retirement observing awe-inspiring sunsets around the globe, that may not be the driving factor that leads them to hire you.  Show your clients that you understand who they are and what they want. And, please, find photos that match.

Advisors: Choosing the right images for your website

Including images and photography on your websites and blogs is something most people tend to do. Using the right images can help you to connect and engage with your target audience. The old saying ‘an image is worth a thousands words’ definitely applies here. However, choosing the most appropriate image can often prove to be difficult and time consuming.

Here are a few simple guidelines to help you choose the right image to help better engage your audience:

Natural Vs. Staged

I suppose there was a time back in the day, when artificially lit sets and over bright smiling people were considered a great idea, but that time has definitely passed. Today’s potential customer has been over-saturated with too perfect and staged stock shots. What people are looking for these days is honesty. The natural/candid style of shot is quickly becoming the preferred style of image for many sites. The reason for this is not just a contrary swing in style; it’s a natural choice for those who are looking for authenticity. If you’re using stock photos that are too polished and insincere looking, it casts a poor light on to your business. It gives off a feeling of insincerity and falseness that may drive potential clients away.

Out of date

When you’ve perused the millions of photos on either pay or free stock sites, you’ll see that some have aged gracefully, and some have not.

If you’re showing a scene with someone at a computer screen, be sure it is a recent image. Nothing says ‘I’m not current’ like an old fashioned monitor sitting on a desk. Or, someone using a 10 year old flip-phone. Images of a family can be timeless, but watch out for telltale signs of family photos that are clearly from years ago.

Seen this one before

Last but not least, we should talk about popular stock images.

When you’re using a site like ‘istock’ or ‘Getty’, one of the filters you can use is ‘popularity’. This means that you can select photos based on how often they’ve been used before. I would advise against that, unless the image is for something benign like a photo of a calculator or something inconsequential.

If you’re looking for anything that will be used as a feature image, remember, someone somewhere has possibly chosen the same image. There is nothing quite as awkward as seeing an image you’re using for your site, also being used by the dentist down the street, or in a piece of junk-mail, or worse, on your competitors site.

Be original. Try and use images that you’re confident your competition isn’t using.

Hiring a photographer and getting original photos is always the best solution, but second best is using something that both looks good and is singular to your site alone.

…But where do I find the right images?

1) Sources for Free Images

Once upon a time, all photos had to be purchased, but things have changed in recent years. There are many sources for photographs and images that cost you nothing, or very little (sometimes just a link to the photographers webpage).

www.freeimages.com

This site has been around now for a very long time, and you can find a lot of great images here. The main difficulty with this (as with other free sites) is quality. For every fantastic photo, there can often be quite a large number of not-so-great photos. As with anything else in life, you sometimes have to search for a bit to find the gold.

https://pixabay.com

Another great site for free images is Pixabay.com. I’ve personally had a lot of success finding great images here. If you’re looking for something here, whether it’s images of luxury, happy families or shots of business people, you’ll find lots of great shots here.

http://compfight.com/

This site is a bit different. Compfight sources all of its photos from flickr.com. For this site, you need to tweak the settings from ‘any license’ to ‘commercial’. Once that is done, search away. You’ll find the photos here are of a much higher caliber than some of the other free sites, and that’s due to Flickr’s reputation as one of the leading photography portals in the world.

Rather than payment, use of these photos is by accreditation. You simply need to include a link on your page to the photographer’s Flickr page; this is shown to you when you click the photo.

2) Sources for Paid Images

http://www.istockphoto.com/

This site is a great source for photos and images. Years ago, it was much like Flickr, but has since been bought by Getty Images, the leading stock company in the world…. which leads us to…

http://www.gettyimages.com

The big time. Getty is just about the biggest player on the block for photography. They also own most of the other stock companies…

http://www.thinkstockphotos.ca

This is another site owned by Getty images. This is the site that I would use the most often and would recommend to anyone. It compiles all the stock companies owned by Getty, so you’re getting the best of the best.

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Now that you know where to find the images and have an understanding of what constitutes a great modern and engaging photo, all it takes now is some time. Although you’re not supposed to judge a book by it cover, we all know that we do. Take the time to properly choose the right images that best represent your business to your customers and prospects. A well-picked image will be remembered and will reflect well on you, but a poorly chosen image will also be remembered, and potentially reflect negatively on your business.