When I start working with a new client, we talk about what kind of website they're going to have, what platform it will live on, how it will function, and what menu items/tabs they'll have.
We talk about content, and how the subjects they choose and the words they use will be most effective in building their business. Or, if they've been in business for a while and are changing up their website, what will be most effective in building new business. We also talk about the old site and why it may not have been as effective as they'd hoped.
When we expand the content conversation into what kinds of images they plan to use ... I often hear ... crickets. Lots of crickets. Then usually: "Um, not sure."
Here's the thing. Collecting photos should be an integral part of the planning process, not an afterthought. You can have great written content (remember: facts tell; stories sell), but you also have to have very engaging images. And collecting those images is just as important as everything else your site will need.
What kinds of images will you need? Should you hire a photographer? Can you take your own photos? Will sites like iStock, Shutterstock, Pexels or Unsplash have what you want? Do you have a budget to pay for images, or do you need to start with free downloads? It doesn't have to be complicated at all - you just need to have really good photos. Once you start collecting your images, keep a photo library folder on your computer for easy reference.
Draw it Out | Make a List
A super simple way to do some planning is to simply draw out your homepage, adding the menu and/or tabs and drop-down's you'll have. Then, imagine you're a potential site visitor or client who clicks on a particular tab. What visual image would entice you to stay on the page and read the content? Sometimes you'll want images of people. Sometimes it might be an outdoor or indoor shot. Maybe you want a graphic.
Placement & Sizing
Image sizing is also something you need to think about early on in your site build. If you're using any kind of a template, you also need to know what orientations you'll need to fill the image boxes. While you can always adjust sizes, it's nearly impossible to take a rectangular landscape image and crop it correctly into a portrait or square image - and vice versa. TIP: If you're taking some of your own photos, when you capture a great image in one layout, take it in the other layout as well. That way you can use it differently within your site. If you're buying photos online, check to see if the photo you love and want to buy comes in both orientations.
Once you've got the basics of your photo library put together, always be on the lookout for other great images that you might use in the future. A photo refresh is a fun and inexpensive way to update your site! If your site will include a blog, do the same thing for your posts. Before you get too far into writing, what kind of image(s) do you want to include?
Bottom Line? Images need to be a integral part of your site planning process.
It's a TIME SAVER ... which also often means a MONEY SAVER.
Great images are just as important as the words you'll have. And it's a lot more fun when the content upload begins, to see not only the words you've worked hard on, but the engaging images that you know will catch the attention of your potential customers/clients.
Not sure what kinds of images will be the best for your site? Don't have time to do the research or take the photos? Let's have a quick conversation about working together to make sure your content and the corresponding images you have will do their job in helping build your business.