Most businesses want a website that gives their company the most credible online presence possible. Which makes sense.
Customers are affected by how a company’s website looks in the same way they’re affected by how a salesman dresses. If a salesman’s shirt is untucked and shoelaces are untied, they’re not going to be taken as seriously as someone whose appearance is more professional.
This goes for websites as well.
But it’s not enough for a website to just look great—it also needs to convert traffic into leads and sales. It needs to be laid out in a way that directs visitors down the right path and answers the right questions so they end up buying what’s being sold.
The point is, to be successful, your website must be attractive enough to inspire confidence in visitors AND be laid out in a way that persuades them to buy.
Think it’s impossible? Not at all.
There’s a new website design trend that accomplishes both tasks. Let’s talk about it now.
The secret weapon for designing a beautiful and effective website
How do you make a website both beautiful and effective? Use large photos as theprimary design component for the homepage.
Here are some examples.
In all of these examples you see a beautiful photo used as the main background image to create an aesthetically pleasing design that captivates visitors and draws them into the site.
After that, there’s expertly placed copy that communicates what the site can do for the customer.
Before this design style emerged, most websites only used small photos here and there as a complement to the overall design. Now photos are becoming the main design element on the homepage and other pages. In some cases it’s becoming even the design itself.
So why is it so effective?
It’s effective because it helps sites to look great. Most companies’ number-one branding opportunity is with their website, so they need a design that gives their brand the strongest impression with customers. What better way than with beautiful photography?
The other reason it works is that it connects with people.
As consumers, we relate much more to everyday scenes than to digitally designed pages with no faces and no elements from the real world. Photography adds a level of humanity and reality that’s missing from a 100% digitally drawn design.
But now there’s a really important question to ask: Is this design style actually effective? If you’re an astute internet marketer, business owner, or designer, you want to see some numbers that prove this kind of design is effective.
In other words, will it increase conversion rates?
Vero case study
I recently spoke with Chris Hexton, co-founder at Vero. He said their updated design, featuring a large photo of a person in an office sitting at a computer, increased conversion rates 54%.
That’s an awesome lift in conversions. And while it’s impossible to know exactly how much credit the photo gets, it is sure that the photo-centric design converted better than the previous one.
Other than this, I can’t personally vouch for any amount of conversion-rate magic this type of design possesses, but I can stand behind the fact that these kinds of designs really appeal to visitors. I’ve spoken to multiple people who find them attractive and compelling. And when people like a design, that usually translates into a great brand impression.
(Note: Vero has since changed their design and is currently testing a non-photo-centric homepage layout. It will be interesting to see how well it performs.)
How to get the most out of this design style
In order to get the most out of this design style, you’ll want to follow a few important guiding principles:
1. Only use professional photos
Average photos taken from a point-and-shoot camera aren’t going to cut it and will hurt your brand image. You need beautiful photos that are taken by a professional.
White text should always be on a dark background, and dark text should always be on a light background. Basically, there needs to be enough contrast between the photo and the text that the copy is easy to read. I recommend paying a lot of attention to this. In the examples above, Square does the best job, and Google Ventures does the worst.
3. Arrange the text effectively
Ultimately, the words on your site need to be read if you’re going to make any sales. This means they need to be arranged effectively on the photo so that they’re easy to read. The flow of the picture should also focus the visitors attention on the copy and not distract from the message being conveyed. It’s very important to ensure that the text is positioned on the photo in a way that’s easy to read.
How to decide if this style is right for you
If you’re still wondering whether or not this style is right for you, consider what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
Agencies generally are trying to connect on a personal level so these types of companies will benefit from large photos that feature people. SaaS companies (companies selling software as a service), on the other hand, may need to focus more attention on the product and may benefit less from a photo-centric design.
However, as always, without testing, there’s no way to know which design style is right for you. It’s always good to test a new style like this against your current homepage to ensure that you get a beneficial lift.
If you happen to be considering a redesign of your site and are looking for something beautiful that stands out from other sites and appeals to customers, this style might be just right for you. Consider the points above and talk to your web designer to find out if large, beautiful photography will be a win for your site.