A good image can really enhance an article by verifying a claim, appealing to a need/want and creating trust. If you are claiming something is true, an image that appears to verify the claim will enhance the effectiveness of an article. If you are appealing to a need, like “these are the best wood floors because of X,Y, Z,” and you include a beautiful image of the wood, the potential need or want of the reader could be increased substantially.
A good image can also increase trust in a reader and move them towards the sales process. Images are powerful, but too often writers use them the wrong way. I am going to give you three tips on using images the right way.
1. Use Only Quality Images that Complement Article
Quality is important in everything and a quality image that appeals to the human eye really enhances websites and the strength of an article. Low quality images do not help the trust, retention or sales process. In fact, low quality images can turn a potential customer or reader off.
Websites like Istockphoto and Shutterstock offer quality images for an affordable price.
Choosing and Image that Complements the Article
When you are choosing an image you want to make sure that the image is enhancing the topic you are discussing. If you are discussing beach weddings you would want a quality image of a beautiful beach wedding, not just a picture of a chair on a beach. You want people to look at the picture and think, “that is what I want.”
Images should relate directly to the claims, suggestions and thoughts presented in the article. If there are random images that don’t relate to the article in any way they shouldn’t be there.
2. Reduce the Size of the Image for Several Reasons
Have you ever gone to a web page and it takes forever to load and you can see that the images haven’t appeared yet? The size of an image can make page load times unbearable for users and people don’t often take the time to wait, they just leave. Mobile users may never get a page to load with a large image, so you could lose that audience too.
Page loading speeds are very important because studies show that the sites that load faster have higher visitor retention, engagement and conversions. Also, Google pays attention to how fast your site loads for their ranking algorithm. You need pages to load fast, so here are some tips.
Reduce the Image File Size
If you are using an image from your camera in a blog post it could be 12-40 MB and you need an image that is typically less than 200K, ideally around 50K is best. So if you are going to use one of your images from a camera or smartphone you need to reduce the image file size for faster loading speeds.
Photoshop is great for changing the size of the image and they even offer a “save for the web” option.
If you don’t want to spend the money on software like Photoshop, you can use a service like http://www.webresizer.com/. For more information on image file sizes from cameras I found an easy article that breaks things down for you.
You should know how many pixels wide the body of your web page is. If you want an image to go all the way across a page you would need to know the dimensions for editing purposes. So let’s say a particular blog accepts images that are 620 pixels wide. You now know the max width for your image and you can also think about what size image you would need if you wanted it to be to the left or right of text. Perhaps 250-300 pixels wide would be best, perhaps not.
When aligning images to the left or right of text you want to make sure that the width of an image doesn’t mess up the layout or readability of the paragraphs next to it. Sometimes 250 pixels just makes the paragraphs look funny, but 225 makes them look perfect. You have to test things out a bit. Just keep in mind that you want the article to flow and be easy to read.
Cropping an image allows you to remove anything that isn’t helpful to an article and it allows you to change the dimensions of the image. I suggest cropping out anything that is not needed or attractive to the reader.
3. Align Your Images Appropriately
Aligning an image can either complement or hurt an article, you want your article to flow and hold the reader’s interest. You do not want to confuse them and make them try to determine where a paragraph ends and where another begins because your image layout make the text confusing.
I used centered images above in the Photoshop examples so your eyes could focus on just the image and not text next to it, but at times an image to the right or left of a paragraph can greatly enhance the thoughts behind that article. For example, if you are discussing particular option within an app or smartphone and your reader needs to see a step-by-step tutorial an image to the right would be very appropriate.
Some CMSs (content management systems) allow you to add images to your website, but they don’t automatically align the images for you; you have to choose to do it. I am recommending you take the time to align all your images and make sure they enhance your article and make scanning and reading easier for the website visitor.