Why Are Images Important On a Website? Do You Need Them?
The main purpose of a website is to share valuable information. And images are one of the best visual aids for your website. But how important are they and when are they necessary?
Benefits of Using Images on Your Website
Images Keep User’s Attention
One of the most difficult aspects of designing a website is being able to keep your user’s attention. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have turned our society into media addicts with a very short attention span.
Websites with few images are going to lose the interest of their users before they even have time to process what the content is.
The scenario might go a little something like this…
Jeff is scrolling through Google looking for a lawyer (don’t question Jeff’s past). He sees a recommendation for a law firm only five minutes away. He clicks the link to their website without hesitation.
A horrendous website loads, and his vision is briefly impaired. But he can’t look away.
That abysmal grey color scheme. Is that font Times New Roman? A wall of text oozes past the bottom of the screen. How far down does it go? It could be endless…
His phone rings and he is startled back to reality. He quickly closes the website before answering. But, unbeknownst to him now, the website will haunt him for many years to come.
Don’t let your website be the source of nightmares for your visitors.
Adding some attractive images to important pages, and especially blog posts, will ensure that their attention is kept while learning about your business.
Relevant Images Improve User Experience
There are many different types of learning styles in the world. Some people absorb any information in a book and will never forget it. Others have trouble retaining any sort of text and need a more hands on approach.
The addition of relevant pictures and informative illustrations helps to make your content useful for a wider group of people.
“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”Ansel Adams
In some instances, such as with a photography website, the pictures are the main content.
But in most cases, an image’s sole purpose is to aid the text. So, be sure to always ask yourself the following questions:
- Would this page or section benefit from a relevant picture?
- Is there any data that can be better understood visually through graphs, charts, or tables?
- Is this picture relevant to the surrounding text or should it be replaced?
These simple questions will improve the readability of your site tenfold.
Images Help SEO
Compare two sites with the exact same content. One of the sites is all text while the other has some relevant images to aid the text. Can you guess which one Google will rank higher?
Search engines like Google are looking for interesting websites with a variety of content to offer users. So, be sure to include images whenever it makes sense.
Are you a travel agency explaining a great resort in Thailand? An image gallery filled with beautiful, professional-quality pictures would really help sell it.
Just be sure that your images always include alt text and a title tag to maximize the SEO value. Read Yoast’s helpful article here to ensure you follow SEO best practices for images.
Downsides of Using Images on Your Website
Using lots of helpful and interesting pictures will undoubtedly help your website. But it is important to stay cautious because images can have a negative effect if used incorrectly.
Large Image Files Can Slow Your Site
Images are one of the most network-intensive files on your website. But too many business owners upload photos to their website without thinking twice about the size or file type of the image.
The size and resolution of an image is going to have the greatest effect on load time. A simple 300-pixel logo is going to cause much less stress on the network than a 5000-pixel professional photography photo.
For websites running on WordPress, Smush is a great plugin to reduce the file size of your images. But one of the best features their plugin offers is a tool called “Image Resize Detection”. Turning this on will highlight all the oversized images on your website.
Ensuring that your image is the correct size for where it is being used is an essential part of keeping load times down. But filetypes can also impact speed.
There are many different types of image file types including:
Most images will come in either JPEG or PNG. These have been the standard in digital photos for many years, but Google is trying to change that.
In 2010, Google came out with a new and improved image filetype called WebP. They state that WebP averages 30% more compression than JPEG without a loss of image quality.
You can use a site like CloudConvert to convert your images from JPEG or PNG to WebP.
Too Many Images Can Distract Users
In most cases, the main goal of a website is to sell a product or service. It is important to always remember this when creating or altering any of the content on your website.
While images can undoubtedly aid the process of selling to your site visitors, they can also distract users from ever making a decision.
As stated before, there are many different types of learners. Some people will love the addition of useful imagery on your site. But others just want to read the important information and get on with their life.
A great example of this is your contact page. Your contact page has one goal and that is to give visitors the ability to contact you. It is not the place to show them the recent renovations to your store.
Finding the perfect balance between helpful and distractive imagery can be a challenge. But you shouldn’t ever have a problem as long as you keep the goal of each page at the forefront of your mind.
The Verdict on Images
There is no doubt that the correct use of images will significantly improve many aspects of your website. But pay attention to the word correct.
A cute picture of your cat may be eye candy to grandmas living in a one-bedroom apartment but save those for a funny social media post. They most likely don’t belong on your website.
And for those of you considering the removal of most of your images just to speed up your site, take a second to optimize them or try converting them to WebP.
In short, every change you make to your website should be about increasing its value to potential customers. And using the suggestions I have laid out for you will ensure that your images work for you instead of against you.