With the advent of the smartphone and apps such as Instagram, photography has become more accessible than ever to the common person on the street. Does this make good photography ubiquitous? Absolutely not. However, it has fostered an increased awareness of photography and its usage, and has raised our expectations on what to expect from a good photograph. From product photography, to breath-taking landscapes, and even to street art, there exists a certain finesse and expertise that we anticipate professional photographs to possess. It’s no different with home pages on websites, and the way in which images represent a site’s brand.
But why are photographs so important? Surely text can impart information in a much more refined, detailed and eloquent way? Well, yes and no. Text descriptions and copywriting do indeed impart detail and meaning, and while they might be able to convey what a brand or website is about, they require a fair amount of concentration to hook a prospective reader. Photographs and images are able to straddle the gap that writing can’t quite seem to bridge. They are condensed, visceral, potential limitless windows of information to express your brand or company’s image not with words, but with color and emotion.
Fashion sites like that of Peter Hahn are able to target their ideal audience with very well-placed and striking photographs on their home page. Within seconds of opening their landing page, you understand what they’re about. The images draw attention to the women and the clothing, and it becomes obvious that this is a fashion brand aimed not at teenagers, but to a more mature and sophisticated female audience.
It’s the same across leading sites in travel, manufacturing, and other specialty industries. Contiki’s homepage instantly draws you in with the promise of adventure and experiencing great moments, with photos depicting the youth in beautiful locations around the world. Likewise, the photo on www.tesla.com screams speed and efficiency, yet combined with elegance and grace; it’s immediately clear that they sell cars. They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but today it’s also worth a thousand clicks.
The power of a photograph lies in its ability to tell a story, to stop people in their tracks and mutter in astonishment, and that power should never be underrated. Whether it’s online retail or merely a personal blog, home pages should always be optimized with well-curated, high-quality photographs that are tailored to your site. They exist to express your goals, ideals, and values, but most importantly, to get people to stay.