How to Find Engaging Imagery for Your Website
One of the most difficult things in creating website content for nonprofits and small businesses, is finding the right images and photos.
There’s nothing like going to a website, and seeing pixelated, poor quality photos, or Google images pulled off the web (which is illegal by the way!), and just cringing!
Unless it’s something you’ve invested in, most small businesses and nonprofits don’t have a plethora of high quality, amazing photos laying around. So what do you do when you’re designing your website?
Well friend, I’m here to rescue… eh I mean HELP you!
Here are three ways to get images for your website. I’ve listed them in order of priority, with the first one being the MOST ideal.
SCHEDULE PHOTO SHOOTS
Yes, I know, modeling or directing is probably not something you wanted to add to your resume, but unfortunately, it is a necessary component. If you want to have an engaging, beautiful website, you need high resolution, good quality photos that will draw people in and give a snapshot of your work or products—think smiling interactions or styled product lines. Notice I said “need”; it’s not a maybe or optional. We live in an image driven society, and if you don’t utilize imagery, you will lose customers, clients, donors, etc. Thankfully, there are professionals we can hire to help us do this!
If you are a nonprofit, think about your brand and the primary call to action on your website. Is it to get donors? Then you should probably have imagery that shows the end result you are striving for. Whether it be smiling students with diplomas in hand, children in a classroom interacting and learning, happy and healthy dogs in a loving home, the list can go on.
If you have yet to launch your nonprofit, or are not allowed to show faces do to privacy concerns, you can also do a “staged” shoot. Get some supporters passionate about your cause to be models and have a professional photographer get imagery of them in the setting in which you work. No one will ever know and this is also very common. If privacy isn’t an issue, you can even ask a few actual clients to “stage” an interaction or situation to be featured on your page.
If you run different kinds of events, hire professional photographers to attend the event and capture some imagery for you there as well.
Pro tip 1: ALWAYS, and I repeat always, get permission (a release form) from the individuals you work with before displaying their picture anywhere. Using their imagery for your gain without their permission is not cool.
Pro tip 2: Refrain from the “starving child with flies on them” approach. Using an individual’s personal suffering to benefit in some way, is not ethical. It also uses the “guilt” approach to getting donors, which may work in some cases, but it’s not the greater narrative we want to create.
If you are a business selling products or services, there are so many things you can do! With your brand look and feel in mind, create a styled shoot of your products, utilizing props and backdrops. If you provide services, maybe get some photos of the finished result or you or your team in action.
Pro tip 1: Generally, it’s better to not use a photo of the outside of your physical building on your homepage. Exceptions to this would be if it’s on the “contact” page indicating your location, or if you are a contractor, real estate agent, etc. and it demonstrates your services by showing a building.
Pro tip 2: Also generally, do not include a photo of your entire staff on your homepage. It’s not engaging and frankly a bit boring. If you want to include it, put it on the “team” or “staff” page.
PURCHASE STOCK PHOTOS
If you are anxious to launch your new website, and scheduling a shoot will take some time, your next best option is to purchase some stock photos. Now, with this one, I advise to be extremely careful in what you choose, as your website visitors may be able to tell it is a stock image. There’s nothing like seeing cheesy, smiling, clearly staged faces on a website, that has nothing to do with what you are about. We aren’t going for that.
That is why purchasing is preferred to free. Purchasing images gives you a lot more variety to choose from, and to match your exact niche and demographic. A few of my go to sites would be Freepik (use the monthly subscriber package), Lightstock Photo and Storyblocks. A few more expensive ones to check out are Istock photo and BigStock photo.
GET FREE STOCK PHOTOS
If you have very limited funds, and just simply cannot afford purchasing stock photos yet, I advise going to a few reputable sites and getting some free stock images that give you the right and permission to post and use them on your site. Keep in mind, your selection will be much less than the paid ones, but you should be able to find something close to what you need, to have in the meantime, until you get better imagery. My personal favorite is Unsplash, and there is also Pixabay, Stocksnap and Pexels to check out.
Pro tip: Do NOT simply go onto Google Images, type in what you’re looking for, and then download or copy and paste an image—that is stealing someone else’s imagery. Not cool.
When it comes to designing your website, content is king and your images play a vital role in that. Don’t skimp or skip over that step! Hopefully these quick tips have helped you on your journey towards getting a gorgeous, engaging website that brings in clients, donors and customers!
(Need one built for you in 2-weeks? Work with me!)