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Download: Images Make A Website Stand Out
Having built several websites over the years, it never ceases to amaze me what adding a number of relevant images can do for a website. The transformation can be literally mind-blowing.
Whether for a website or any other publication, images make things brighter, and knowing how to manipulate and use images properly, is something anyone with an interest of publishing content in any format, should take the time to understand.
Images draw attention to website written content and make it more interesting, thereby making it likely that people would like to read that particular content. They also provide context at a glance, so that people can infer what a web page is all about. In a nutshell, images make a website stand out.
In order for a website to stand out as a result of the images used, particular attention has to be given to the way the images are presented from a design perspective. This can involve general styling as well as animations and transitions.
General styling guidelines are crucial when applying CSS to images. Cascading Stylesheets, CSS is the language specification for styling web pages. When applying CSS, attention has to be paid to how an image is displayed across a page. Consideration has to be given for whether the image is meant to take up the entire width of the page, or only a percentage of the width? Is it left aligned, or right aligned, or maybe centred?
Careful attention also has to be given, to ensure that the width and height proportions of the image are preserved, if the image is going to be scaled up or down, relative to its normal size. A disproportionate image just doesn’t cut it for good aesthetics of a website.
Animations can also be part of the image itself, like is the case with animated GIFs. The animated GIF file format uses animated frames embedded in a single image, and can be great for simple animations, whilst adding flair to a website.
Making a website stand out due to the images used is an art form. Like with all art, there is a certain level of skill required, when selecting images to be used with a page on a website. The images have to be chosen for their relevance to the web page.
When it comes to judging the relevance of images, context should be the main guideline in making the decision. The images have to provide context, and must be related to the content on the page.
The idea is to allow readers of the written content, to be able to infer meaning about what the page is all about, simply by looking at the images on the page. Human beings are visually oriented creatures, and our eyes gravitate to the images on the page as we skim through it, looking for clues as to what the page is all about.
Choosing the right image that will make web pages appropriately stand out, is no easy task. Furthermore, if you write on a regular basis such as in the case of a blog or newsletter, you need to find a regular and continuous source of images to use. Most importantly, there has to be relevance.
One approach would be to produce your own images. In that case you would arm yourself with a digital camera, set up scenes relevant to the written content you are creating and take photos. This requires skill with a camera, to produce high quality photos, and will also take up a significant amount of your time.
However, not everyone can take the route of taking their own photographs, and you might want to consider the alternative of hiring a photographer. Whilst you might save on time with this approach, it may turn out to be costly, and also involves spending time communicating your vision with the hired photographer.
Another alternative is to use images taken by other people with the intention of selling to others, or offering their use for free. These are called stock images. You however have to be careful with the images you use with this approach, by making sure that you have the right to use them. There are both commercial and free websites, that keep a database of images you can use for your content.
The images that you get for your website content may not be directly usable, unless some changes are made to them. It may be that the images need to be adjusted in aspect ratio, or require cropping. Whatever the case, you will more often than not, need to edit images before you use them on your website.
Some of the edits may be as simple as changing the image dimensions, and others may be more complex. But if you need your website to stand out, this may mean hiring a graphics designer to get the job done. I recommend teaching yourself how to edit images. It is a worthwhile time investment, and is not a difficult thing.
There are a lot of tools to help you edit images, such as the popular Photoshop, or free alternatives such as Gimp. There are also some online image editing tools that you can use such as Canva. The beauty of these tools is that, as is true with many things, you become better at them the more you use them.
I have one general rule when it comes to great website written content: Unless it is not appropriate to do so due to the nature of the content, always have at least one image accompanying your content. That way you can make sure that your content is interesting enough to attract readers.
Even though I have stressed the use of images on a website, the the guidelines for using images are easily transferrable to other forms of publications, such as desktop publishing and print.
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