“Focus on the purpose of the images, and you will turn photos from window dressing into key conversion tools”
That’s how the widely recognized UX Expert, James Chudley, in his article, “How to use photos to sell more,” summarizes the way you should select high-converting images.
It boils down to this: What’s the purpose of the images on your website?
Conventional thinking may lead you to believe that you need them to “beautify” your website because too much text makes your website look dull. Or, because when you are selling something online, your customers would like to see the product before they buy.
And while all this is true, but there is so much more to images on your site than this.
Here are the 5 ways you can use images to serve different purposes on your site that ultimately contribute to your website conversion goal:
1. Convey a Product Benefit
Now your product might have three to four good benefits. But which is the one that your customers care about most? Figure that out. And instead of using words, let your image do the talking here.
Montane is an eCommerce store that sells all the stuff a mountain biker needs, from backpacks to jackets for different weather conditions.
The primary concern for their customers is the storage or the weight of their product, since things like legwear or jacket can take up a lot of space in their backpacks.
So, the Montane team makes the smart move and, along with their product display images, they add an additional image on almost every product page that compares storage space of that product with the size of an apple.
See it for yourself in the image below:
Isn’t this amazing? Had I been a biker, I would have definitely been sold.
2. Add Credibility to Your Site
The best way to make people see your website as “spam” is to add stock photos. They are phony. They compromise your site’s credibility and people often ignore them. In short, they waste your website’s real estate. Don’t use them ever.
The web is a very depersonalized medium. Giving a face to your company adds credibility to your website.
People like to get a sense of the company they are dealing with. And real human photos can do that for you in a breeze.
InfusionSoft pulls this off quite well on their homepage by adding a large, high-quality image of their employees:
37Signals tested their customer’s image on their landing page against a page with no image and found that images with their customer’s images made their conversions shoot up.
Want to take this up a notch?
Add the image of an influential figure in the company. Below you can see the image of Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mind Valley Insights, alongside the newsletter signup of their site.
Medalia Art found that adding images of the artists increased their conversions by 95% when it was tested against the Control page that contained images of only their art work. You can read the complete case study here.
3. Direct User Flow
This point is best elaborated with the image given below:
The point is, people cannot help but follow the direction in which we are guided.
The power of directional cues to improve conversions has already been proven by this popular eye tracking study. Use them in your design to guide your visitors’ thought process and direct their attention to important elements on your web page.
Headlines, call-to-action buttons, or lead generation forms are usually the main elements that should draw visitors’ attention.
You can also direct your visitors’ attention towards a powerful testimonial rather than a call-to-action button if you think it would better influence their buying decision.
Here is an example from Kissmetrics:
You can even guide user flow by making your visitors follow the direction of the eyes in your images. Gieco is a good example here:
4. Make Them Imagine How They Will Feel When They Take Action
Ever planned a trip or booked a hotel without looking at the images of the place or the accommodation?
Exactly! Travel websites understand this very well. Beautiful locations, luxurious settings, and serene natural beauty all sell you the dream of a perfect holiday without saying much in words. Their images do the persuading for them.
We tend to think we make rational decisions. But the the truth is, we make decisions when our emotions are triggered. After that, we just try to justify our decisions, so they make sense to our rational mind.
When you convey positive feelings or make visitors imagine the experiences they might miss out on, they take action. Make them connect with you and sell them a positive experience with your images.
For example, the image below from Human Touch has a feel-good factor that instantly makes you imagine the relaxed, comfortable feel that you would expect from a great reclining chair:
5. Give Context to Your Products
When you use lifestyle-based images or present your products in the context of their surroundings, people notice them.
The image below, from an eyetracking study, shows how people interacted with lifestyle images from Pottery Barn on the left as opposed to plain still-life images of products from Amazon on the right:
Some sites take it one step further. They combine the two approaches to give users both the contextual images and the ease of noticing product details in individual product images. Wildgems is one great example.
You can see it in the image below:
It might seem easy to choose a relevant image with the right context, so you might not give it much thought. But the wrong image can actually hurt conversions.
As it turned out, people were probably confusing the Marketing conference, which is a live event to be held in Indianapolis, with the virtual event because of the laptop image on the Control page.
Of course, you need to test first, no matter which idea you choose to try. And for any of this to work, you really need to make sure that you are aligning your efforts with the basics of using images online.
Images are a great way to communicate and using them just for “decoration” purposes will never get you any better conversions than you have right now.
What Do You Have For Me?
Okay, so I’m done. Now it’s time for you to spill some beans.
Are you guilty of using those cheesy stock photos? Or, are you the stud and have already tested some images that align with your website conversion goal? Let me know in the comments section.