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Quality Images on the Web: Making the Sale

A picture is worth a thousand words, but is a thousand words worth a picture? In the world of the web, pictures mean everything. People have been and always will be stimulated by attractive images. When we go to the store to buy something, we typically gravitate to the items that our personality finds attractive. With this in mind, wouldn't it make sense to put attractive and meaningful images of products that we wish to sell on our websites?

The answer seems obvious, but very few businesses actually practice this proven concept of marketing on their websites. When I purchase items from websites, more often then not, my decision is based on the amount of relevant information provided about the product. This includes images. I personally prefer to see many angles and discernable details. I want to see it as if I were seeing it in a brick and mortar store on the shelf. All too often, I end up having to search about the web looking for images of the product that other websites have up for display, then eventually if I have satisfied myself that the product is what I want, I buy from the website that has all the right details and price.

If the first website I found the product on provided me with good images to begin with, I would never have had to venture out to the competition. What a shame for the business that initially got me to their site and lost me to another. So my point is this, if you go through the trouble and expense of building a website, marketing your website and managing your website, then why not put a little more effort in providing great images to strengthen the sales pitch?

Great images can be the difference between a sale and no sale. To start with, consider what product views are the most important to consumers. For example, when looking at electronics, I would prefer to see front and back (with all the different types of connectors, I want to make sure it is compatible). When, purchasing a book, the cover is (don't judge a book by it's cover, Erik ?) probably good enough, but I want to see it! The list goes on and I am sure you get the idea.

All of this being said, what constitutes a good image? Good means large enough to see detail, sharp enough to read the fine print and small enough to load quickly in my browser. I am always amazed when I am on a site that has images that are more than 40k in size and take forever to display, especially when a so called web developer put them up on the site. There are instances when hi-res images are required but for Pete's sake the internet is 20 years old now and we should all know better, that is, web developers should.

Technology, bandwidth, high speed internet and tons of storage space are the norm now. You can have hundreds or even thousands of images on your site without running into problems or added cost. So I beg the question - Why is it so hard for businesses to give me a visual representation of the product they want me to buy? The answers I can think of could be:

That they don't really care to increase internet sales or direct sales generated because of their website.

They don't have the necessary equipment ie. camera, product tents, flash strobes etc. (if this is this only reason, I can recommend a great camera shop.)

They had no idea their website could be an active sales force. (cheap too, compared to a human employee and doesn't call in sick.)

Maybe they are just plain ol' lazy? It wasn't too long ago having good images on your site meant the web guy had to put them up. The main reason for this was the image required preparation before it could be properly displayed on a web page. Until digital cameras, you needed a scanner and some software to size the image correctly then convert it to a web ready format. After digital cameras you still need software to size the image correctly because an 8 mega pixel camera produces a super hi res image that if displayed in a web browser without being treated would be around 28 inches by 21 inches and take an hour to fully appear.

Now the times have changed. Image handling can be programmed directly into your website's content management system or CMS. Your CMS could take an uploaded image directly from a camera and resize, resample and display it on your site automatically. The CMS can also be programmed to do image overlays or make multiple copies of the image for multiple display sizes. If your curiosity has been peaked, we welcome you to try a demo of this on our website. Contact your web developer and ask them about CMS and image handling. CMS / auto image handling will save you a significant amount of cash if your product images require a great deal of updating.

The last thing I want to touch on is quality photography. There is nothing worse than browsing online for real estate and seeing a half million dollar property with poorly taken photos. I always wonder about how good their realtor really is or better yet, how cheap and lazy. Quality photos require good lighting (not just a well lit room), good angles and a bit of skill behind the lens. The upper tier web developers usually have a commercial photographer on staff or in the rolodex. This is the best way to spend the money you've saved from having a CMS programmed into your website. A good photographer can take the most mundane, plain old boring thing and make it interesting. If you really want more sales and you really want to show off your polished products, be nice to them and have a pro shoot them for you.

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