11 Aug 2020

8 steps to displaying impactful digital imagery

Luke Holderness, Creative Director, Pixl8 Group

What makes a great image? It’s an important question to keep in mind as you develop your digital content. 

Investing time and allocating a little budget into sourcing high-quality, on-brand imagery will support your website to drive audience engagement and deliver on digital goals. 

The good news is that you don’t need to be a designer to source brilliant imagery. There are actually a few guiding principles which anyone can use to help teams develop resources and also access them easily.

So, here are our 8 steps to choosing the best images for your website. 


Audit your existing imagery

We find that many of our clients are already sitting on a treasure trove of images. All too often, collections of photos are scattered across different departments and are stored on different servers. This means organisations don’t know how much they actually have in the archives. 

A great first step is to audit your existing imagery and create a centralised collection of branded images on a system that is accessible for your entire team. Think about all potential sources including those used previously in printed marketing materials. If you don’t have the files, reach out to your designer or photographer to get the original hi-res files.  

Think about themes, classify and tag

Sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint what you want a picture of, particularly if you are searching for images to illustrate relatively abstract content, say in publications or on your blog. If you’re struggling for inspiration, verticals and themes are a great way to guide your image search and to give you ideas for subject matter. 


For example, if you’re looking for an image to go at the top of a future events listing page, you could explore the following themes: 1) a past event 2) the venue, city, country where the event will be held, or 3) related to the subject of the event. 


Choose imagery that is relevant to your brand

Making sure that the imagery you use on your website is both relevant to your brand and audience, helps to build trust and confidence in your organisation. Imagery can communicate a lot about your brand character and values - something which is proven to influence the browsing and purchasing behaviour of audiences. 

The number one rule is to always keep your audience in mind. Consider, how you want them to think and feel at a particular point in the user journey, or what action do you want them to take on a webpage? This will help you to pick more relevant imagery.  

Go human with photography

Try and show the real world in your website photography. Humans are emotional beings and so we tend to connect better with images of other people, rather than products or things. Use the imagery on your website as a tool to bring the value of your organisation and service to life.


Our partner Historic Houses do a fantastic job of showing the wide geographical and architectural range of properties their members can visit. Using photography of members enjoying a great day out has proven a winning approach, driving digital engagement across current and prospective members. 


Create some space in your imagery

Choose photography that focuses on one situation - like an individual or a small group of people. Try to use images which have space around the subject matter. Overly busy images, large groups or patterns do not tend to look good digitally, particularly on mobile devices. This helps to keep your website looking clean and simple, ensuring imagery supports, rather than detracts from important elements on the page - like headlines or a call to action.  

Another way to do this is by cropping your image to create some space and visualise interest. There are lots of great articles on this, but as a guide, use the rule of thirds. Frame your subject in a way the areas that are going to draw most attention and make sure they are offset from the centre.   

Always use high quality imagery

Always choose images with a sharp focus and which are hi-resolution to ensure your imagery looks high-quality and professional. Poor quality imagery can have a negative impact on audience engagement and brand perception. As a guide, if an image looks blurry, don’t use it! Go back and search for a better quality image with a higher resolution. 


If you use our CMS product Preside, we’d recommend uploading the highest quality image available. We’ve designed the Preside asset manager to automatically resize images to the optimum size. You can also pick a focal point on an image to avoid cropping every image. If you manage lots of content, it really does save your team time. 


Cultivate a tagging culture

Organisation is key. Use folders and a standardised naming structure for all your images files to make asset management simple and accessible for all. Create a list of keywords that can act as tags. Including a primary tag in your file name structure will make it easy for you and your colleagues to search for images thematically in the future. 

Describe not only what you see but also consider how images can show more abstract ideas as well as metaphors such as celebrating success, overcoming challenges and demonstrating growth or diversity. Put time aside at least quarterly to review your naming classifications to make sure that the terms are still relevant.   

Finally, invest in your content

We’re talking here about budget as well as staff time into developing your creative strategy. Having a clear visual direction, sourcing images ahead of time, and regularly revising your imagery will pay off in the long-run. Think about how you can stretch each photography opportunity further. If you’re hiring photographers to attend your event, consider how you can re-use these images more widely across your website or marketing. 


Carving out a small budget to purchase high-quality stock images from websites like istock.com or 123rf.com is an affordable way to fill in any gaps on your website. Even free websites like unsplash.com also have some great images. You don’t always need a huge budget to commission a photographer to take brand shots. 

Make an impact

Image selection has such a large bearing on the look and feel of a website, but often, distributed teams on tight deadlines hastily select imagery to accompany content like an event or webpage announcements. 

Planning for these situations and setting aside time to build a library in advance, to review and regularly top it up will mean your team have access to a full range of suitable and powerful imagery when they need it.  

Got the glimmer of an idea?

If you have any questions or would like more advice on making the right typography decisions for your website, get in touch.

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