Why Use Graphics?
The cliché saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is true; at least it is when it comes to using graphics on your website. Graphics grab your readers’ attention and enhances your content and removes the boring look that text heavy sites typically convey. Allen Ginsberg, poet and author, stated, “Whoever controls the media—the images—controls the culture.” As early as the late nineteenth century, advertisers, based on their collective experience, were convinced that illustrations sold goods. World War II propaganda posters were very effective at manipulating popular opinion.
If creating a more visually appealing site isn’t incentive enough, know that including images on your page also actually helps improve your search engine optimization (SEO). Research has shown that pages with photos, illustrations, infographics, videos and animations attract considerably more visitors than those that don’t. Also with the recent usage of smartphones and tablets growing in leaps and bounds it makes even more sense to convey your content with graphics.
How to Use Graphics
There are multiple ways to incorporate graphics onto your website site. Let’s take a look at a few different places where you can use images throughout your website:
- Header – The most obvious place to begin with. Your website will look more professional if you have a customized graphic as your header. Make sure it includes your company name, logo, and/or motto. Also make sure it’s not overly complex and complements your site’s color scheme as well. This will also allow you to use your site for branding purposes.
- Enhance Data – If you are presenting data, using illustrations, flash or gif animations, charts and graphs will help get your point across better. When it comes to quick, clear communication, visuals trump text almost every time.
- Break Up Text – There’s nothing worse than going to a site which has paragraphs and paragraphs of information, with no images to break up the text. While generic graphics are better than none at all, make sure to use graphics that complement and support your content.
Where to Get Graphics
The next question you may be asking is: where do I get these images? There are a few sources you can go to for your graphics:
- You – The first place to look for images is on your very own computer. You will likely have images that relate exactly to what your text is about. If not, you are always able to take some new pictures. Make sure that the images are content-appropriate and of good quality.
- Flickr – Flickr offers lots of images for free. The images you find here are taken and shared by the common person. While you may have to do a little searching, there is an extensive selection and you’ll be sure to find a high quality photo that relates to your text.
- Stock.XCHNG – This site offers stock photography for free. The fact that it is stock photography means you don’t have to worry about browsing through images that are inappropriate or unappealing; however your options are relatively limited.
- iStockPhoto – This site also offers stock photography, but requires you to pay a fee for their service. However, it may be worth it since their site combines the best of both words: great variety and great quality.
How to Format Graphics
You can easily format and edit your pictures using the Webs photo app. Just make sure that the file size of each photo is not too large. The bigger the file size, the longer it takes to load, and the more likely it is a first time visitor will leave your site. You can also use more advanced photo editing software such as PhotoShop and Macromedia Fireworks to enhance your photos.
Final Tips on Graphics
Now that you have an idea of how to use graphics to enhance your website, here is a final list of do’s and don’ts:
- Don’t use clip art. You want your website to be professional, not childish and kiddie.
- Don’t use graphics that have too much going on, clash with your site’s colors, or that flash. Graphics should add to, not detract, from your content.
- Don’t use blurry images! This is an automatic turn-off for first time site visitors.
- Do balance your text and images. Don’t use images that are too large or too small, and don’t use too many images on one page.
- Do use file names for your graphics that contain keywords related to your site’s content. This will help your SEO.
While the tips presented above should be used as general guidelines, there are of course exceptions to the rule. Feel free to play around with graphics on your site. Remember that a first impression is everything, so be sure to use graphics to add an oomph factor to your site.