Get an image makeover in 2014

The imagery you use online says more than you might expect. An image may be the first thing someone notices when landing on a page, so they play a key role in making a good (or bad) first impression.

Here are three tips to help you assess the imagery on your site and see if you need to tweak it, update it or create something new.

Tip 1: Avoid obvious stock photos

We’ve all seen them: handsome business people shaking hands in a spotless white room. Women laughing while eating salad. Babies using computers for some reason. Clichéd stock photos are rife on the web, so much so that they have their own meme.

We’ve learnt that these images are fake- not real customers, users or staff. So go through your key pages and check you don’t use any clichéd stock images. If you do, try to replace them. And if you have to use stock photography, Paul Boag has some great tips for doing so effectively. Make this the year you start using images that really mean something.

Tip 2: Make your imagery appropriate

It’s not just stock photography. People are extremely proficient when it comes to a assessing imagery on the web, according to this study by Jakob Nielsen. If it looks like an ad, or like something that’s been dropped in to fill a space, users will ignore it. If it looks useful or interesting (think real people and product photos), they’ll pay attention. Good or bad, the imagery you use will leave an impression on users, so take the time to make sure it’s a good one. You can read more about this at 52 Weeks Of UX.

Tip 3: Get the resolution right

A common problem with using imagery on the web is getting the resolution and size right. The larger the image, the longer it takes to download (a problem for people with slow connections or mobile devices), but the smaller the image the more pixelated it will appear when stretched: fuzzy images look cheap and unprofessional. inSquare Media’s article on why you should resize your images is a useful introduction to getting the balance right.

This post originally appeared on Together We’re Better. See more from there.