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Image Trends & Their Growing Importance

Are you aware that Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and the likes have altered the way your users view your website? The unprecedented success of these social sites clearly point to one undisputed fact – we are a visually oriented culture. That has directly influenced what users expect to see on your website, which in turn affects their experience, quality, and ultimately how well your website does. 

Modern society has come to expect visually stunning, content relevant images. It isn’t enough to simply throw up a picture to break up the text – the picture must be of good quality and properly edited to fit the space, AND must be relevant in some manner to the text on the page or the organization itself. Another influence, which we can attribute to photo sharing streams such as Instagram and Pinterest, is that your website users will come to expect images in some areas to be updated regularly.

For Churches and Christian Schools, there’s another important aspect of images – images are expected to be a direct reflection of your culture and environment. They need to reflect or radiate with your organization’s persona.
In conversations with our customers, many of them recognize this change in our society and are simply overwhelmed at how or where to begin. Here are a few of the Faithwebsites Team recommendations:
  1. Header Image:

    If you have a Basic Design, look at the header image on your site. Is it filled with an outdated, stretched, or “busy” image? Is it properly sized? Does it reflect your organization or at least compliment your organization? Sitting at the top of the site, this visual is of key importance.The solution? Less is more in this area. Let your organization name (and logo) shine and narrow up that space. Replace people or busy nature images with solid or slightly textured colored background files with your organization name on top. Benefits to this may include increasing the vertical space for your content on a user’s monitor, bringing more attention to your name/logo and immediately improving your key content and navigation because the users eye is not competing with the header visual. If you would like more information on how to do this yourself, or a quote to have Faithwebsites create a new header banner for you, please start a new ticket in your support center. *The header image area (top banner) is only applicable to Basic Design customers; Custom Designs and Premium Designs do not have a header image area that is editable.
  2. Crop Photos – Create Stunning & Relevant Images:
    One of the greatest and simplest things you can do with a photo is to crop it. Cropping eliminates unwanted areas, creates or alters the center of focus, and ensures that the photo will be sized correctly and not distorted. Ill-proportioned photos are an eye-sore and can deter visitors. Likewise, images that are not relevant or that have distractions in them create an equally unpleasant visual experience. In Faithwebsites, you can easily crop all of your images to the exact size required for each tool use (slide show, text editor and photo gallery). This will ensure correct centering and a good quality visual experience.

    Original image


    Cropped to fit website slide size and to bring focus on the couple

     

    Example of image being auto-resized without using the crop tool


  3. Review & Replace Images On Inside Pages:
    It is quite ideal to have relevant images on your pages with your text content – provided they meet the growing expectation of being real or relevant, and high quality. Go through your webpages and ask yourself these questions below. If an image doesn’t pass the test, remove it and find a better image.

    1. Does this image relate to the content on this page?
    2. Does this image reflect our organization?
    3. Is this image relevant?
    4. Does this image possess good quality – and should it be cropped or edited to fit better?
    5. Finally, should this image have a caption? (Some images should have a caption, but not all. For a general idea, think about a newspaper – pictures and captions are the second most “read” item next to headlines! There was a wisdom in captions that newspaper editors knew about, and that wisdom can be applied to some web pages today.)
  4. What To Look For In An Image:
    Images influence how a user feels about the website and it’s content or organization, and influence where a users eye is drawn. Churches should use images that reflect the nature of their worship service and culture of their church. For example, if your church is traditional, images of people are a good route to take. If your church is contemporary, background images of nature with text overlays might be in order. If your church is very modern, textured graphic edges with bold typeography might be the correct image route for you. Besides using images that reflect your organization, look for:

    1. high quality – the original size photo should be larger than the space you are looking to fill (example, a 400×500 pixel slide show requires a minimum of a 450 wide and 550 high photo to be able to crop and position well).
    2. no fuzziness – a sign of a poorly taken photo or an image too small to fill the space
    3. no distractions
    4. good point of focus
    5. colors that will work with your website (avoid photos that will clash with your website)
Finding images can be a challenge and take some time, but it will be well worth the effort. The visual improvements to your website will keep your site a positive user experience and have them coming back for updates.

Tips for images on a budget: stock photographs can be found at a very reasonable price. We would recommend Fotolia.com as a stock photo option, and for churches and Christian ministries, check out Creation Swap as a valuable and high quality resource.

If you would like more information or assistance in updating or improving your website, contact us today!

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