We are a visual species.
Posted on: 18/10/2016

Since our earliest days, images have captured our attention. They are at the heart of our storytelling. As young children pictures are one of our first methods of expression and a fundamental tool for education. Images bring text to life. They are powerful in simplifying the explanation of complex ideas.


Images are everywhere.

We all use images (of varying quality) to share and save memories. Over 150 million people share around 55 million photographs daily on Instagram alone. Strong visuals help sell products and the stories around them. A recent study found that users were 79% MORE LIKELY to purchase a product they saw pinned on Pinterest.
Photographs tell a story about you and your company... and the more inviting and exciting those photographs are they are the more likely consumers will be to click through and do something about it. As you’re planning the creative elements of your marketing, carefully consider your story.

Storytelling

Tell the story about the lifestyle of your brand. It's the story that engages and adds depth to the image. It's the storytelling that draws people in and creates a connection that produces action. Give the viewer something to relate to.
OK. We already know you have a story to tell. Stories often take 500-750 words to communicate but one photograph or a series of photographs can often produce the same result, quicker. Take every opportunity to tell a visually engaging story rather than using text alone. People seldom read. Even newspapers, people scan first and only read when their attention is caught by a headline or, more often, a picture.


So what do you do now?

First think. Remember this mantra.... Every picture sells your story!
Before you post or use any photograph ask yourself three simple questions.


1. What is the purpose of this photograph?

This is a great starting point. If you know what you want the photograph to achieve, you'll know which photograph to choose.

2. Is it a cliché?

I commonly get feedback from both clients and end-users about their universal loathing of stock photography. Users wanted a realistic vision of what you actually do or the service you provide. Stock photography, much of it created outside the UK, doesn't have the authenticity that home-grown images have. Using manufacturer's photography is little better. It might be great photography but if the room size doesn't fit with your prospective customer, they won't relate. If it's not relevant, they won't connect.

3. Is it good enough?

And most importantly, good enough today means excellent. Whatever your industry, your photography reflects your brand image. You may be the best in your industry, your products might be excellent but if your photography is mediocre, then that's the message your sending to your prospective customers. The internet is littered with badly-exposed, blurred and downright ugly snaps, uploaded in the hope of persuading prospective customers to visit showrooms, phone for appointments or buy products. Today's buyers are demanding and savvy. Their attitude is simple; “I don't care how awesome your company is, if your pictures suck I'm not buying it!” It really is that important.
Having establish what you're trying to achieve and which image to use, try this simple tick-list.

Is it consistent?

Representing your business consistently in all your media: web, print and social, is essential. Brands are created and reinforced by photography. A mental disconnect occurs when photos don’t match the user’s beliefs about the brand. It feels wrong and creates doubts. Keep the content appealing and consistent and you won't confuse your customers. They'll appreciate knowing who you are, what you do and the values you adhere to. 
Does it sell your lifestyle?
Whether it’s rural life, the good life or city living, everyone strives to live what they believe to be their perfect lifestyle, and we buy things that match that lifestyle. So, when products are displayed in the context of a lifestyle, we assign value to the product based on our desires.


What next?

Photographs play a crucial role in informing, influencing and reassuring customers throughout the buying process. Review your website’s photography, now. Question its role. What is the job of a particular photo at that stage of the customer journey? Is it effective? When might customers drop out and how could photos prevent that?
Previously the task of image selection often fell to the designer but more and more websites are maintained by the business owner. It now falls to you to influence the process of selecting photographs that are appropriate. Consider these principles to ensure that the images you choose not only “look right” but also work well. Focus on the purpose of the images and you will turn photos from window dressing into key conversion tools.
How have you used photography to maximize conversion? We’d love to hear success stories and anecdotes from user testing.

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