Category: Tip & Tricks

Finding Images to Use on Your Website

I have to admit that images can make or break a website. Good images can carry a website all by themselves. Poor images can destroy your credibility. So where’s the best place to find images for your website?

 

The Best Source for Photos

Undoubtedly, the best place to find images is to hire a professional photographer to take custom shots that match the design aesthetic of your site. A photographer should be able to capture the message, the mood, the colors, and even tailor the shot for a specific spot on your site (such as fitting certain dimensions or having people look a certain direction). While custom photography is perhaps the most expensive option it can also be the most impactful. It’s often times the best money you’ll spend on your site.

If you decide to hire a photographer make sure to have them communicate with your web designer or developer. They’ll speak a common language that you most likely won’t understand or think to consider. They’ll be able to make sure you get the best results in the end. Plus they may each have suggestions for each other that would not have been thought of otherwise. I’m trying to avoid using the word synergy here, but it really can happen in this situation.

 

Using Internet Photos

Stop right there. No, you can’t just lift photos off of any old web page just because they strike your fancy. Regardless of how “perfect” they are you still must abide by copyright restrictions. (If they’re that perfect, hire that photographer I mentioned to create a similar scene.)

There are ways to find good photos on the internet though. Here are a couple of my favorite resources:

  • Flickr — If you use the Advanced Search on Flickr and look for those images with Creative Commons licenses. As long as you abide by the terms of the license, and many simply require that you give attribution to the creator, you’re free to use it on your site.
  • Public Domain Images — There are several websites that specialize in public domain images, and you’ll see the same images showing up on various sites. That’s what happens when they’re public domain. My two favorite sites for these types of images though are Unsplash and Gratisography. Some amazing, fun, and quirky image can be found.

 

What About Stock Photos

Kind of my last resort for photos, but often good for other sorts of graphics, are stock photo sites. Places like iStockPhoto and 123rf.com have a wide variety of images that often cater to the types of messages and topics that are frequently found on websites. They’re excellent in quality and come in some great formats for use on websites. The biggest downside of them is that they are often, I dunno, tacky looking and you have to pay for them.

 

Deciding what types of images you want on your website can be time consuming. Finding a reliable source and settling on a thematic look to your images can help give your site a professional feel. If you’ll be blogging on your site, you’ll also want to consider if you want to use images with each blog post. You may want to consider gathering a few images that reflect major categories that you’re likely to cover before you even begin. It’s always good to have some go-to images that can be reused from time to time.

If you have any questions about images, and I’ve barely scratched the surface here, please don’t hesitate to ask. Images can be tricky but they can also make a big difference to your site.

How Much Should a Website Cost?

One of the scariest parts when looking at hiring professionals to help you with your website is the question of how much it will cost. Everyone involved needs to know, and usually everyone is afraid to talk about it.

In an effort to help you understand the market I would like to share this great article on what to expect regarding market rates. As it states, it makes many assumptions and the answer is always “it depends,” but it does provide some great background into what to expect.

How Much Should a Custom WordPress Website Cost, by Brian Krosgard on Post Status

Two things to add, though. First, if you have a set budget, letting the professional know what it is up front can help them get you the most bang for your buck and avoid a lot of frustration. Two, if you really have no idea what something costs, but are willing to find the resources to make it happen, well I hope the information in the article provides some guidance for you. If this is the case, then having a chat with a professional to have them help you define what your likely budget might be can be very helpful. Once again, let them know that you’re just looking for information rather than a full-on proposal and that you might not be ready to move forward just yet — because “straightforward” works both ways.

Before You Begin Your Website

The prospect of a new website is exciting, isn’t it? You’ve been surfing the internet looking at all the possibilities. There’s a great graphic over here, and a cool scrolling site over there, and look how they’ve embedded videos? Isn’t that fantastic?

Whoa, Nellie.

Before you start looking about for all the bells and whistles you want to include on your site, you have to take a step back and …

Think.

SO not glamorous or exciting. BUT ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL to creating a great website.

What is it you want your website to do for you? Increase awareness of your services or expertise? Educate people on some topic? Engage them in a conversation or community? You need to begin with questions like these before you start to think about design elements. 

In addition, what do your visitors want your website to do for THEM? Just find your location and phone number? Get critical information without having to call you? Become a way to connect with like-minded people?

Only after you’ve answered those questions can a website be designed to meet those needs.

The colors you choose will depend on those answers.

The words you choose will depend on those answers.

The functionality you include will depend on those answers.

The amount of resources you dedicate to your website will depend on those answers.

A good website design starts by asking questions. LOTS of questions. Questions that make you think.

And once you’ve figured out the answers to those questions, the next step is to write. If a website is a publishing medium, what is it you plan on publishing? Where is the text? Who is going to create it? How about the images? You can get help creating these, but no one can create it without your input. And until the content of your site has been determined, you’re still not ready to start looking at design.

Building a website is a lot like building a house. If you know you’re building for an affluent single person, you’re going to build something completely different than if you’re building for a multi-generational family that likes to entertain. Making one live in the space designed for the other probably isn’t going to work well, even if it is a roof over their heads. 

The old adage “Begin with the end in mind” is useful advice before you start to decide what should and shouldn’t be on your website. Much less how it should look. So before you begin… think.

Who Are You?

Before we can begin work on your website, we need to be very clear on the message it needs to communicate and to whom.

What we’re talking about here is a brand. No, not a logo, a brand. A logo is only one small piece of that. If you’ve not developed a brand strategy yet, now is the time.

There are lots of branding resources or services out there. If you’d like some assistance, I can recommend a few.

But if you’re scraping by on the skin of your teeth, you’ll need to at least have answers to the following ten questions. They are taken from the book Small Business Branding by Maria Ross. Maria also offers reasonably-priced workshops and other services through her website at Red-Slice.com.

Ten Key Questions to Building Your Website Strategy (okay I changed that just slightly)

  1. How do you describe your company and what you do? (What do you do? Why does it matter? Who cares?)
  2. What are the product or service package and pricing descriptions?
  3. What are the organization’s strengths and weaknesses?
  4. What are the adjectives and emotions around your brand?
  5. Who and where is your audience? What do they look like? What do they read? What groups do they join? How can you find them?
  6. What are the main benefits you provide to customers? Why can you make those claims?
  7. Who is your competition and how are you different?
  8. How do you need to communicate: With current clients/interested parties? With new prospects?
  9. What is your company’s greatest asset/one unique thing?
  10. Metrics: How do we measure success? (Awareness > Education > Consideration > Purchase)