One of the biggest factors that web users base their experience with websites on is the usage of visual imagery and how it is implemented in the website design & development process. Users will have a reaction when they visit your site and it all depends on what they see.
There are techniques for selecting, building and designing visuals and it’s important to understand what visuals are and why they are being used for your site. Talking Rain’s website features images that build customer loyalty and strengthen brand credibility. H&M’s eCommerce website features hi-fi lifestyle photos that are appropriate and often related to the products being purchased. Fast Company’s news website features emotionally strong images that go with headlines, copy and CTAs.
To determine if your images are persuasive and powerful, it’s helpful to have a gauge. The three most important rhetorical appeals you can use to analyze and judge the images you create are logos, ethos, and pathos.
Ethos is used for building trust and credibility. Your brand’s perception is affected by high-level messaging. Because images are part of the key messaging framework, they must be of high quality. Images should reflect positivity on your brand and the experiences of your customers.
Stock images can look just like stock images. Are you using cartoony clip art? Are you content with mediocre graphics or cartoony clip art? Are your diagrams, infographics and illustrations clean and crisp? It is important to recognize that images can damage your brand’s credibility and undermine trust in your company if they’re low-quality, poorly produced or drawn, or don’t match the rest of the aesthetic of your company and brand.
Steven Snell wrote in Vivid Images in Modern Web Design that branding is a top priority for websites. He said, “Branding can help to establish the company’s brand by creating a specific vision of the website/company in the mind of visitors.” The purpose of branding is to get the visitor to see the company in a certain light.
Branding doesn’t mean a logo and a name. It is the collection of imagery that you use to represent your name, messaging and patterns. Your imagery is crucial in building trust and credibility for your brand. It is important to create a positive first impression for users. This can be achieved by using high-quality images.
Logos relate to your logic. It is important that you choose images that are consistent with the purpose and campaign of the experiences you create as a designer.
It may seem obvious, but images that are relevant to your message’s goal can help drive conversion. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your image must say everything. Your images should visually reinforce the message of your brand, product, or service.. Although the image may not seem to fit together on its own, it should be connected with everything else on this page. A picture that fits the message is more important than the message. When these elements are combined, they make the experience stronger.
It is essential that your eCommerce website has high quality, clear product photos that match the technical description. This will help customers make informed purchasing decisions for your products. Your most important photos could be your lifestyle or background photos that evoke an emotional response.
Marko Prljic, in The Web Developers’ Guide to Image Selection, writes that “An effective photograph is one [that] conveys the intended message clearly [. . . ] Effective is a term we use to describe photos that cause a change in our behaviour.
Clicks, purchases or signups could be your conversion metric. Are the images an extension of your brand’s identity? Are they appropriate and fit the message? Your images are an important tool to help your users convert.
Are your images persuasive? This is what pathos really is about. Images should be able to inspire, have an emotional effect, and reinforce the emotions you want to convey. When it comes to making crucial decisions, emotions often outweigh logic.
Why should they read the text on the page? Why should people click on important CTAs? Although your website may have a flat navigation hierarchy that is effective, why should visitors use it to find what they’re looking for? Images should relate to your message. Images can be used to make a point or advance the story. Sometimes, a single emotive image can be the foundation of an entire advertising campaign.
Steven Snell wrote, “A vivid and striking image will endure in the minds of visitors.” While text can be forgotten and read, strong images will last.
It is important to use emotionally powerful imagery to ensure that your users are able to continue exploring your site. It’s when imagery is meaningful that action and engagement can occur.
Logos (logic), and Ethos (credibility), are important in the selection of imagery. Pathos allows you to go further and tie into strategy. All elements of website UX design should be able to drive emotion and action. This equation includes powerful imagery that is emotionally charged.
Images of high quality are well worth the investment. You should capitalize on the moment when users react instinctively to your site. This is the moment when users decide whether to continue exploring or bounce. Imagery is key to ensuring that this split second becomes a long-lasting experience.
As a quick check to see if your imagery meets the criteria, you can use logos, pathos and ethos. An image should build trust (ethos), communicate your message clearly (logos), and encourage people to dig deeper (pathos). Testing images for usability is possible, just like with other UX elements. You can create great experiences by combining creativity with science.
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