The Web Designers’ Guide to Photo Selection

Photographic imweb-designages grab our attention and trigger an almost instantaneous response when we encounter them. They are therefore an important part of any website we create. Photos play a significant part in determining our first impression, but they can also tell us what the site is about and can be a huge factor in earning trust.

When used properly, photos are very effective and can quickly send the intended message to your audience. However, using the wrong photos can degrade your users’ experience. How do we choose the right ones?

Using Photos in Web Design

As much as we care about all aspects of the website we’re creating: content, colours, typography, hierarchy, information architecture and other details, photos deserve as much attention in terms of usability and overall users’ experience on your site.
A Freelance web designer should have the basic knowledge of designing and selecting photos for the websites. Because the workflow of web design starts with the creative banner or photo which you are using to attract the people.
Dealing with photos on websites should be something designers understand and apply effectively, so this article will point you in the right direction and show you how to think about photos when deciding to use one on your next web project.

Demand Attention by Using a Large Photo
People scan screens based on past experience and expectations. The top left is the most common starting point for users’ eyes, although this does depend on their culture’s reading patterns. If you’re using a large photo on the page it will immediately grab their attention and pull them away from their usual tendency.

Treating a Photo as Content

I’m sure you won’t argue with me that a photo on a web page is content, but do you really treat it as such? Do you use it just as an add-on or a nice content filler? Have you considered all aspects of that particular piece of content? Have you evaluated the photo properly before you have chosen to use it? Have you considered users mental models and the impact the photo will have on them? Does the photo provide meaningful information or provide help for a user’s current task? These are just some of the questions you need to answer before using a photo on a web page.
Photos should never be used just to “jazz up” the web page.
I’ve seen many designers just placing a beautiful fullscreen photo on a web page, throwing in some tagline or a “Call to action” and declaring it done. In many cases the photo has not been evaluated, the designer was merely following an ongoing trend. Let’s see how to evaluate a photo before using it on your site.

Choosing the Perfect Photo

There are a few things to consider when deciding to choose a photo in your design.I will assume that you already know how to evaluate fundamental aspects of a photo, those being: quality, size, composition and exposure. Quality in terms of required resolution, size of the image and preferably its orientation for the intended usage, effective composition and cropping of the photo to draw attention, and properly exposed subjects on the photo.
Once you have done that and the photo has passed the fundamental test you can continue to explore the options for your intended usage.

Our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than reading text. – Mike Parkinson


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