How To Pick The Right Images For Websites, Presentations And Beyond!
As design and publishing software has become increasingly sophisticated and accessible, tech-savvy customers have come to expect concise and well executed design. This is true for everything from newsletters to websites. Cluttered and primary-coloured Geocities pages are thankfully things of the past, and bland charts accompanied by rainbow-striped WordArt headings will no longer cut it.
With this higher standard in mind, it’s essential to choose the right images to illustrate your productions — and thanks to the inexorable rise of the microstock image market, great photography, illustrations and videos are now accessible to smaller businesses. The iconic Twitter Bird, which helped define the service as it grew from Silicon Valley start-up to global phenomenon, started out in life as a microstock illustration purchased from iStockphoto.
DIY design may have its pitfalls but by following a few basic principles, many smaller businesses are using the tools at hand to create powerful, eye-catching materials that don’t cost the earth.
Here are a few top tips:
Good ideas are everywhere. Look at how companies you admire (including your competitors) are trying to do similar things, and take inspiration from the best elements of each. Create an inspiration file to gather together the best of whatever catches your eye, and keep returning to it as you put together your design.
Choose a look and stick with it
A decent online media library such as iStockphoto.com is built from the contributions of millions of members, so there’s no reason to throw in the most obvious and literal image you come across. Try to keep things looking consistent — you might want to use images from the same contributor, and definitely try to avoid mixing photographs with illustrations.
Picking the pictures — be discerning, not distracting
Be smart in choice of images, sounds and video as they play a crucial role in keeping your customers engaged and attentive, but only if used in the right way. A well-chosen image can show web-users precisely where to click, draw the reader’s eye to an article or neatly illustrate a key point. Whilst music which auto-plays on a website can be irritating, and lengthy animations are fun but at times can have users scrambling for the “skip” button. If your use of multimedia distracts from the information you’re trying to convey, it can take your project a step backwards.
There is certainly no shortage of content out there — however be aware that it all ultimately belongs to someone! Grabbing images randomly from Google can lead you into copyright conundrums — not to mention the poor image quality. iStock provides a huge library of royalty free images which means post purchase you hold the rights to use the image indefinitely. There is also a clever feature on iStock’s site called CopySpace which allows you to search based on blank areas of the photo available for text or branding.
Add a personal touch
The most effective designs have an overarching direction to them. One way to achieve this is to have one person in control. Equally, don’t forget your design is for your users, not for you — make sure you ask around for opinions, and don’t be defensive of your decisions.