Building Your Image With Imagery

This article is the Third in a series of three written by James Leal-Valias, Creative Director of iStockphoto

It seems like every day the Internet offers a new way to market your business. And, while there is no shortage of case studies showing how successful marketers have used these new tools to catapult their companies to new heights with the social media sensation de jour most businesses still use their websites to do the heavy lifting when it comes to brand building.

There are several elements that go in to creating a great website. Usability, relevance, writing style and even search engine optimization all play important roles. But the single most important element is the image. In nanoseconds, the perfect image can convey emotion, establish credibility, tell a story, grab attention and add personality to a site. Great imagery can convince a visitor to stick around and explore the site more thoroughly. Conversely, inappropriate, incongruent or dated images can instantly tell a viewer they are looking at a dated and possibly irrelevant site and cause a visitor to bounce prematurely.

Before beginning a search for imagery, it is important to consider the objective of the site you are trying to build. Are you trying to inform, educate, persuade, sell or entertain? What is the culture of the company or organization you are trying to promote? Is it conservative, edgy, whimsical, creative, humorous or sophisticated? Who is your intended audience and what is their cultural background? What emotions are you trying to convey? Be sure that the copywriter, the web designer and the organization’s key decision makers agree on objectives and vision for the site.

After that it’s time to get tactical. Understand as much as possible about the architecture of the pages. How much space will be dedicated to images, graphics and navigation? How will the images be oriented? What colors will be used (and what colors should be avoided as a result)? Will images stand alone or will they serve as a backdrop for copy? How will that copy be incorporated? What kind of files does the designer need? How big should the images be (minimum pixel height and width)?

The better you understand the answers to these strategic and tactical questions the better you’ll be able to narrow your search and the easier it will be to find the perfect images. And now the hunt is on!

One of the best places to find images for websites is a stock company such as iStockphoto, which provides inexpensive photos, illustrations, video and even audio files created to be repurposed for use in websites, marketing materials, blogs, presentations, billboards, signage and more. One of the main benefits from purchasing stock imagery is that it can safely be used commercially without violating copyright, intellectual property or privacy laws and guidelines.

Another advantage is the way the images are cataloged. The best stock agencies have powerful search engines that allow users to conduct extremely detailed faceted searches. Images are categorized by subject, type, size, color, price and orientation. Users can also search by emotive description or look for images with space for copy in a particular area. iStockphoto even employs a proprietary algorithm that takes a buyer’s location into account so it can show images most likely to be culturally relevant first in search results.

By doing your homework up front and using the right stock company and search engine you can eliminate tens of thousands of not-quite-right images and spend more time carefully evaluating a select group of contenders to find the one that is absolutely perfect. Because when it comes to websites, you should accept nothing less than perfection.

About iStockphoto

iStockphoto is the web’s original source for royalty-free stock images, media and design elements. For over 10 years artists, designers and photographers from all over the world have come here to create, work and learn. Although iStockphoto started with just a few photos in 2000, we now offer vector illustrations, videos, music and sound effects, Flash and, coming soon, logos.

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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