How To Dramatically Improve Your Website With Powerful Images

Did you know that the human brain can process an image about 60,000 times faster than it can process text?

That means the images we choose for our websites are the very first thing that will make a connection with our customers.

But unfortunately, a lot of small business miss this opportunity.

When choosing images for their websites, many small businesses are tempted to use images that depict who they are as an organization.

It typically looks something like this:

But remember, a website isn’t about your company. It’s about your customer.

Everything on your website should be created with your customers in mind.

So as much as we want to feature the front of our building or pictures of ourselves with our kids, we should avoid the temptation to do it front and center on our website.

What to do instead

We should use the images on our site to tell a story of what life will look like if potential customers purchase our products and services. Will they be happier? Then show images of people happy with your products. Will they get to spend more time outside? Show a group of people hiking through a gorgeous ravine with your products.

Here are a few examples of companies who are getting it right — and why their image choice works.

Baked In Nashville

As a custom bakery, Baked in Nashville is all about gorgeous, tasty confections. And in the leading image on their website, the gorgeous wedding cake is front and center.

But it’s not on its own. It’s in the context of a celebration. The new husband and wife are cutting their wedding cake, in a tender embrace, savoring this moment on their perfect day.

Baked in Nashville is serving the bride-to-be that comes to the website by showing her the moment she’s been dreaming of. I don’t think it’s an accident that we can’t see the bride’s face. It makes it easier to imagine it’s you.

Apex Expeditions

Apex Expeditions offers small-group adventures to fascinating places around the world. One of the first images you see on their website are the stunning salt flats in Bolivia.

Better yet, you see regular people right there, posing for pictures and taking in a once-in-a-lifetime view.

On the surface, prospective customers for Apex might say they’re looking for a unique travel experience, a trip that’s off the beaten path. But deep down, they’re looking for more than that. Perhaps they want to be seen by others as an adventurous person. Maybe they want to know they have what it takes to get out of their comfort zone and see a part of the world that challenges them.

This image shows, in an instant, that Apex can help them meet both of those needs at once. All they have to do is click.

Christian Brothers Automotive

Yes, Christian Brothers offers car repair. But they offer more than that. They speak to the two things most of us worry about when we take our car into the shop — and it’s not Will I get a professional grade carburetor? Rather, we’re worrying things like: How much is this going to cost? and Am I going to get ripped off?

So the featured image on the website isn’t a repaired car, because that’s only a part of the happy ending they want to show. Instead, they show a woman smiling at her car repairman, having just left her car, trusting the experience is going to be a good one. They want to show what life looks like to potential customers, and this is it: peace of mind.

Why This Strategy Works

These three websites are strong examples because they show more than just a happy customer with a product. They show the resolution of an even deeper need.

Let me unpack that. Customers start out looking for a solution to an external problem. They need a cake for their wedding. They are planning a vacation. Their car has broken down.

These three websites are strong examples because they show more than just a happy customer with a product. They show the resolution of an even deeper need.

But what really motivates them to take action and buy is an internal problem. They want to impress their guests. They want to know they have what it takes to go on a big adventure. They don’t want to be ripped off.

The sooner you understand this, the better. Customers buy your products or services to relieve that internal tension. So when you show images of people who not only have your product, but who’ve had that tension relieved, more customers will seek your expertise.

Three Questions to Ask Yourself of Each Website Image

If you’re choosing images or having custom photography done for your website, here are three questions you can ask yourself to make sure the image will connect with your customers:

Does It Add Value or Provide Information?

This study by web usability expert Jakob Nielsen found some website images are completely ignored, while others are examined closely.

The difference was whether or not the photo communicated useful information. He summarized his findings, saying: “Users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to ‘jazz up’ Web pages.”

So don’t just add images for their own sake, and beware of cheesy stock images. Make sure they’re communicating something useful to your prospective customers.

Does It Make an Emotional Impact?

Do you tend to smile back when a friend smiles at you? The response is almost instantaneous. Psychologists call this reaction “emotional contagion” — and basically it means that we tend to mimic the emotions of people we interact with. This applies even when we view images. That happy, smiling customer you feature makes your website visitor smile, too.

Does It Show the Transformation My Product Offers?

This is probably the most important aspect on the list, especially in feature images. That’s why I unpacked it in the examples above. Make sure your images visually display the success your client will experience if they buy your product or service. And don’t just think of it in terms of the surface-level success. Make sure you’re showcasing success in overcoming those internal questions, too.

Your images are a powerful — and often overlooked — part of the experience you’re creating on your website. Invest in your images and make sure they’re tuned into your customer’s needs, and I know you’ll see more engagement and better results from your site.

What do you look for in your website images? Leave a comment and share your ideas.

We Can Help You Improve Every Part of Your Website

When you come to a StoryBrand Live Workshop, we’ll show you a proven framework that will help you launch an effective website that will grow your business. In fact, the three businesses we featured in this blog post have all attended and have the results to show for it.


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