Images are an important aspect of the visual presentation of your utility organization’s website, but selecting the right ones can be difficult if you don’t know everything to consider. In this post, you’ll learn how to select appropriate photos, specifications to keep in mind, and accessibility standards to adhere to.
Stock vs Original
The first thing to decide on is if you want to take original photos or use stock photography. While stock photography provides high resolution, professional looking options, it’s almost always better to go with original photos. That’s because you want your website to represent your cooperative or utility district and ultimately the place in the community you serve. Using recognizable photos of the surrounding area will be recognizable to your customers, instilling your utility website with a sense of authenticity.
It’s confusing when photos don’t match the content – you wouldn’t put an image of a baseball game on a page for tree trimming – it creates a confusing incongruity. It’s much better to use photos that are relevant to the subject matter of the page they’re appearing on, so that the image and words enhance and support each other.
RGB vs CMYK
This is a little technical but is an important distinction you should understand to get the most out of your image quality. As any designer will know, the RGB (Red, Green and Blue) color mode should be used on digital platforms, whereas CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key) should be used for print. There are a lot of reasons for this that go beyond the scope of this article, so for now just be aware of the difference. As for the file format to save RBG images in, you will typically want to go with either JPEG or PNG. Avoid saving as a GIF unless it’s animated, as that format type will deteriorate the color palette of still images.
Resolution, Compression & Speed
Search engines increasingly factor in loading speeds of websites when displaying search results. Having numerous, massive images on your website can significantly slow how quickly it loads for site visitors which may result in visitors getting frustrated and leaving, as well as your website getting knocked down Google page rankings. The trick is to use high resolution photos while compressing them to minimize their size without losing image quality.
Alt Tags & Captions
Alt tags are used to describe images to search engines and screen readers, helping your website rank higher in results while also making it accessible for people with vision impairments. Importantly, alt text is not on visible the website – you have to dig into the html in order to find it. Captions are the opposite. This text does appear on whatever page the users is on and provides additional information or details about the photo go give the viewer more context. You can think of alt text as what’s under the hood and captions as what’s on the dashboard – each serve different purposes but it’s important to have both.
Images can be easily taken for granted on a website, but as an important part of your website it’s imperative to get them right. Color modes, download speeds, and text to help accessibility will all go a long way toward your utility websites search engine rankings, as well as enhancing the experience for the viewer. Most importantly, you should have a holistic mindset when designing your website – content, videos, illustrations, logos, and images should all work together to create a unified, thematic and consistent presentation.