Think of your favourite holiday destination. Your worst dentist appointment. Your football team. The shoes you are saving for. You're not thinking in words - you're thinking in imagery. Powerful imagery because it is personal to you. People create memories and emotional connections in a visual way.
On your website, words are crucial for detail, communication, empathy, persuasion and action. Powerful imagery is crucial for that most potent ingredient of all - emotional connection.
Even if it is on a subtle level, people will make instant and hard to shake associations based on imagery. You may think that a few stock images of calculators and graphs are sufficient imagery for a financial planner. But financial planning is all about people, their security, their hopes, dreams and ultimate lifestyle goals. The most powerful imagery to support this website is that which evokes these desires.
If you are in manufacturing, don't just take photographs of the parts you make. Provide powerful imagery of the bigger picture that your parts contribute to. Do the visual research and create a positive connection with your ideal customer.
Design and imagery should both come out of a thorough research and planning process for your website. Too many businesses go about web design in the wrong order.
The client briefs the web designer, including three examples of sites they like. They get back three design options with their logo placed somewhere similar to the three example sites. The client approves the design, the web designer builds the site. Finally the designer asks the client for copy and images - which they fit into the design.
Sound familiar? And now that you look at it a little more closely, can you see how it doesn't make sense?
It doesn't matter how beautiful your design or how much powerful imagery is included, if it is a mismatch for your business - it won't lead to conversions. People will immediately sense the discord (even if they can't identify why) and will keep searching for a more integrated, cohesive site.
The best seven step plan to building a great website is:
This is where working with an online marketing consultant can save you large amounts of time and money. Your website is a business tool, not a design tool.
Rather than experiencing false starts and frustrating re-hashes with designers and developers, do your research, nail your online strategy and put that at the centre of every content, design, imagery and technology decision that you make.