Strategically using imagery on your website is one of the absolute best ways to achieve the results you’re after. Regardless of whether you’re looking to leave a stellar first impression, successfully introduce your brand to potential customers, build consumer trust, or boost conversions, chances are, you can do a lot with a well-chosen image.
But with so many available sources for visuals, choosing the right ones can be difficult. Moreover, it’s essential to remember that an image alone isn’t enough to convince your target audience that your brand is worth the investment.
So how can you ensure that your visuals differentiate you from the competition, convey your intended message, and hit the bullseye when it comes to delivering gains?
The following are the best practices for using imagery on your website in 2022 and beyond.
1. Keep An Eye On Consumer Sentiment
Despite what most sources would have you believe, there’s a limited amount of certainty with which design trends can be predicted ahead of time. However, it is possible to forecast design elements that will appeal to audiences. The way to do it? Learn from the data.
Consumer sentiment is an essential component of using imagery on your website in the simple way that it can inform you about your target audience’s prevailing priorities.
For example, 2020 and 2021 witnessed the rapid rise of the homebody economy to the mainstream. So, brands had to adjust the way they used imagery on their websites. Suddenly, apparel brands went from high-fashion looks in their hero sections to showcasing cozy clothes suitable for at-home wear.
Safety and inclusivity were also notable concerns among consumers, so many brands ensured these were prominently featured in their website imagery. Check out how Zoox used photos to support its claim that it is committed to diversity. Furthermore, note that the people in the images wear face masks, sending a message that Zoox also cares about the safety of its employees during a pandemic.
In 2022, consumer trends are expected to remain similar to what they are now. However, to ensure you have the most relevant data to base your decisions on, make sure to keep up to date with trustworthy resources. McKinsey is a great place to start. You can get a lot of info from WGSN and Vericast as well.
2. Use Images That Work With New Tech
The devices your consumers are using to browse the web are becoming more advanced by the minute.
You probably already know that 54.8% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices (that’s excluding tablets). But are you aware that a 2020 survey by Android Authority revealed that 81.8% of smartphone users used dark mode on their devices? Or that 61.6% of people had phones with displays that supported a 90Hz refresh rate or faster?
To ensure you get the absolute most out of your visuals in 2022, make sure your choice of imagery communicates that you’re a brand that’s happy to innovate (especially if you’re trying to appeal to younger audiences).
This doesn’t have to mean going totally futuristic – although this hero section image by Ferox looks absolutely stunning.
Even something as simple as choosing visuals that work with responsive design is a good start, like in the case of US Fireplace Store. Notice how its image-heavy site looks just as well on a mobile device as it does on a full-size desktop display.
3. Prioritize Accessibility
The final version of the W3C Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 3.0 is expected to be published in early 2022, which means that now is the perfect time to start thinking about improving the accessibility of your site. Especially considering the fact that 97.4% of sites fail to comply with the current 2.0 standards.
So how do website visuals and accessibility work together? Well, there are several ways to make your site more inclusive.
For one, ensure that there are text alternatives to every single image you use on your site. Adding alt text is super simple, and it helps people who cannot process photos understand your intended message. It also aids SEO, so it’s a win-win strategy.
If you’re using videos on your website (which you definitely should be), make sure you provide captions. This will help you communicate key marketing/branding messages when sound is unavailable or limited and ensure all web visitors enjoy a great UX. An easy way to do this is to upload your videos to YouTube (where you have control over the captions) and embed them on your site. It’s what Mrs. Property Solutions does on its About Us page, and it works like a charm.
In terms of website layout, WCAG 3.0 proposes structuring content with sections, headings, and subheadings. This is in line with previous research about the way people read on the web. But, it can also help you combine the power of text and visuals to draw attention to a high-value CTA. You can find a good example on the TrackTik site, where the hero image’s subject positioning directs the user’s attention towards the brand’s value proposition.
Finally, don’t forget to ensure a high contrast level between the foreground text and its background. This will help your web visitors read your content more easily. If you’re ever stuck on achieving the desired effect, a color wheel tool like this one by Adobe is a great way to get the absolute best results.
4. Consider Using AR, Animation, Personalization, Or Interactive Content
If you’re ready to go a step beyond the basics in 2022, think about ways to make your website imagery more exciting for visitors. There are super-interesting ways to elevate the visuals on your site or blog. So, think about whether one of the following options may appeal to your target audience, help you address consumer pain points more efficiently, or simply allow you to present your brand in a better light.
According to Statista, the number of AR users worldwide is expected to grow to 1.07 billion in 2022. This means that approximately 13.5% of the world’s population will be using AR features on their mobile phones.
This data is excellent news for eCommerce stores in need of exciting, effective, and, above all, user-oriented ways to use images on their sites.
Big names like Ikea, Gucci, and Apple already allow consumers to see their products in the real world. But, in 2022, it might finally be time for smaller brands to catch on to the trend and start working towards an even better customer experience.
If AR seems like too much for you to handle in 2022, you can still impress web visitors with a few handy tricks.
Another excellent way to elevate the imagery on your website? Personalize it.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated or intrusive process. But, it is sure to resonate with your potential customers, especially as 91% of consumers are more likely to buy with brands whose offers are relevant to their needs.
For example, something as simple as adjusting your visuals based on a web visitor’s geographic location can help you present them with the offers they’re most likely to respond to. Uniqlo’s website is the perfect illustration. It utilizes location info to personalize the user experience, which resulted in the Chinese site skipping the Black Friday fever this year but offering discounts on 11.11 instead.
Another trend that’s on the rise for 2022 is interactive content.
According to DemandGen, interactive content achieves 2x more engagement than static content, and Statista shows that a growing number of companies invest in these types of experiences due to their high performance.
While this doesn’t mean that you should race to create quizzes, infographics, or e-books, it does send a clear signal that some sort of interaction might help your web visitors feel more in touch with the visuals on your site. For an example, check out this page on the Spotify website, which uses interaction-based triggers to adjust the displayed CTA buttons.
5. Don’t Feel Like You Have To Use Images
The last website imagery tip you should consider for 2022 is that, over the coming year, photos and visuals won’t have to be a mandatory element on your site.
Yes, you should definitely use them if you feel like they provide value. But, if you’re just going to go with stock photography or a generic visual that doesn’t have anything of importance to say about your brand, you might as well go minimalistic.
If you do decide to go with a text-only design, pay attention to typography, negative space, and colorways. These will all play a part in ensuring that your message gets across. And you can still add a bit of excitement to your site with words only – just look at how well Verticalloop does it with the animated value proposition.
Over To You
If you’re looking for the best practices for using imagery on your website in 2022, remember that design trends develop continually. This means that your choice of visuals should be capable of evolving with them, that is, changing in sync with current trends, consumer sentiments, and technological advancements.
And the best way to ensure that is to stick to the five tips listed in this article. Seeing how they all, essentially, focus on improving website UX, you’re sure to see good results. If you’re still not convinced that they work, the easy solution is to do some testing. This will inform you whether the imagery on your site does what it’s supposed to or if it is time to start thinking about taking things in a different direction.