Website Banner Best Practices: How To Choose The Right Image for Your Message
Businesses often employ a website banner on the front page of their business websites. Some of these are massive, browser-spanning, screen-filling images (or even videos) with text on them. The huge website banner, often referred to as a hero image, can be an effective tool for driving home a marketing messages if done correctly.
But the problem most businesses have when it comes to a website banner is choosing not just the right message, but pairing the perfect image to go with it.
This is not a tutorial on how to craft the perfect message for your business. There are plenty of marketing experts available for that task. This is about how to design your website banner so it matches your message.
First, let’s talk about what most people use. There are typically four types of images used by most B2B companies in their banners.
If you are a law firm, this would be a courtroom or a gavel. As a general rule, these are often overused and old-fashioned images. There can be good uses for them, but use with caution.
Companies are often obsessed with their locations: an office space, a building, facilities. Unless you have an incredibly unique location situation or it is directly related to services you provide, assume no one cares about where you work. Another common practice is to use a cityscape or skyline. This can also be effective if it is wholly unique. Don’t pick a stock skyline image used 1000 times by other businesses.
These types of images are either very generic (people shaking hands, meeting in board rooms) or related directly to your industry. If you are an energy company, for example, you might use an image of an oil tanker. The latter is often a good choice, the former not so much.
Finally, there are the photos of people or places unique to the company itself. These are usually either great or awful. Photo of team members working together on a project: great. A Photoshopped image of the firm’s partners standing awkwardly together: bad.
None of the above instances are necessarily the wrong choice. What matters most is how they work with what you are trying to say. If you are promoting your history in a particular city, a skyline of that location might be appropriate. If you are in a unique industry, photos from that industry might even be necessary. But, there are some best practices to follow when creating the photos for your website banner.
Think Message First
When deciding what photo to use, think about what you want to say first. In the example below, our client, a professional mediator, wanted to convey he was the right person for the job. It needed to be direct, focused and serious. The generic boardroom may seem like a safe choice, but it was appropriate for the situation and by taking it slightly out of focus, we can hone in on the message, the most important part.
Creativity is King
But, you don’t always have to choose a “safe image.” Creativity can set you apart from your competition. In this example, our client wanted emphasis on being exceptional and uncommon, both characteristics he believed of fine artwork. He decided to go extremely creative and opt for a famous painting taken from the Creative Commons files of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Both creative and beautiful, plus it really is exceptionally uncommon. Winner.
Going outside the box doesn’t just mean abstraction or an impressionist masterpiece. Sometimes, it is as simple as recognizing and embracing your own history. Our client, Joseph J. Earthman Generations, happens to be from a family synonymous with funeral homes. By choosing a beautiful image that is evocative of family, history and the tenuous nature of life (in every generation), we were able to beautifully emphasize his name and his mission.
Prioritize Quality Over Specificity
Perhaps most important of all in your choice of a great image for your website banner is quality. Whenever possible, hire a photographer. This cannot be stressed enough. It is often affordable and can provide you with a perspective no one else has. In this instance, our client hired a photographer to take a photo that managed to capture the city of Houston (Buffalo Bayou Park near downtown to be exact) AND the client’s actual office (the building on the far left). That’s difficult enough, but to also take a stunning photo makes the entire banner and is a visual game changer.
Staying on message means having a great partner to steer you in the right direction. Site Mender has been providing high quality web design since 2001 along with WordPress, SEO and website maintenance. Please read more about the services we provide and visit our website design portfolio for more information. Of course, please call us at 888-424-6363 or get a free quote today!