Newsletter No 3 - March 2012
(with some updates July 2016)
Welcome to my email newsletter on the topic of Making Your Website Work for You. Your website is an essential part of your marketing strategy and can also be the place where business is done. But the web is like a shopping mall – your “shop” is competing for business with a lot of others and it needs to be attractive to invite people in and then encourage them to do what you want them to - e.g sign-up for an event, visit your shop, make an enquiry or buy your products.
My first two newsletters were about how to stretch your marketing budget and Save money using your website. This month my newsletter offers some tips for using images on your website or blog:
Using images on your website
A website is a visual medium. Images set the scene, create emotion and keep visitors’ attention. A well-chosen picture is worth a thousand words and can convey information quickly and efficiently. When you are setting up a new website your web designer will talk you through what kind of images and colours you want and help you decide what works best for your business or organisation. He/she’ll do any image processing and manipulation that’s required. If you are managing web content updates yourself or writing blogs and newsletters you’ll want to add photos and images as well as text. Here are a few guidelines for using images well.
1. Source – where do you get your images from?
- You may have images of products from your catalogues or printed brochures. Use these because it helps to maintain the theme across the different media types. Make sure your graphics designer sends you a copy of photos and designs in jpg, png or gif format.
- You can take photos on your digital camera or phone and use those (see note on size later on).
- You can use images from commercial image libraries like iStockPhoto, CanStockPhoto or Fotosearch. You will have to pay to get the rights to use these professional images on your website but they are usually of good quality, without backgrounds and covering a range of subjects. The medium-res or small files are fine for the web and are cheaper than the larger images you’ll need for printing. This picture of a girl tearing up her L-plates after passing a her test cost a few pounds from iStockPhoto but was just right for www.kdfdriving.co.uk
- Don’t just use images from other websites unless you are actually promoting the site. If you do then add a caption with accreditation. Many photographers and graphics designers rely on supplying photos to websites for their livelihood and it’s stealing to pinch someone else’s images. If you really like an image, contact the website owners or webmaster and ask whether you can use it (FOC for a fee).
2. Standards – what kind of image files can you use?
3. Size matters! This time smaller is better.
- Most digital cameras and phones take photos with very high resolution. This means that when you print them out they look fabulous, but in computer storage terms they are very large. For instance the image of our local volunteer group www.coleorton.org.uk/volunteergroup.html is 640 x 427 pixels on the web page. This was originally sent to me as 2856 x 1904 and size was 4.1 MB. This image would be twice the size of most people’s computer screens. Resizing it to 640 x 427, which is plenty big enough for the purpose, reduces file size to 100KB. Large image files take a long time to download – and visitors may just give up waiting. The little image of the group on the right is 150 x 100 pixels and is only 7KB.
- You need to reduce the size of images to what suits your webpage. Do this with a photo-editing program like Photoshop, Serif PhotoPlus or PaintshopPro.
- You can also reduce quality of the image to make the file size smaller, but only do this if really necessary.
- Another tip is to crop the image to the bit that’s really important. The picture will look better anyway with the main subject dominant in the frame. Then reduce the resulting image to the size you want for your website or blog.
- Some content management and blogging software will resize the images you upload, but bear in mind that uploading a 4MB file will take several minutes (generally upload speed on a broadband connection is a fraction of the download speed) and it may not be accepted anyway. So reduce your image size before uploading.
- Screen sizes these days vary massively from 4k screens to 300pixel mobiles and everything in between. You need to think how your images will be displayed. If your website has been designed to be responsive the images will be automatically sized to fit the screen. Fast broadband and 4G phones will get big images down fast, but remember not everyone is able to get those speeds. So reduce your image to a reasonable size before you upload.
- If you are asked to take photos for one of those gallery sliders that are popular now think about the shape. They are wide and generally shallow. Your image needs to be panoramic, as wide an angle as possible while still keeping the main object visible without being cropped top and bottom.
Hope these tips on using images are useful. Give me a call or email if you've any questions or if I can help in any way.
Best wishes and make your website work for you!
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