Planning for Effective Image Use

Images play an important role in communicating with your audience. When used effectively, they can work toward achieving your organizational goals. For this reason, it’s important to understand your available resources and create a strategic plan for imagery on your website. Here are some questions you can ask to make sure your images will be employed effectively.

Where are images necessary?

It’s important to identify where images might be needed, so they can be seamlessly incorporated into the design. Adding images to a section intended for text in your content management system could lead to unprofessional-looking results. On a different note, it’s often worth asking if an image should be included at all. In a particular context, will an image work towards solving project goals and objectives, or would it interfere with them?

What types of images need to be considered?

Not all images are created equally. Will your images be mostly headshots? Landscapes? Logos? Drawings? Diagrams? A little bit of everything? There are numerous possibilities, and it’s helpful to initially pinpoint what types may be used in a given setting, since different images may require unique treatment. For example, if many of your images are headshots or logos, inserting these into a space intended for cropped landscape photography may not yield the best results.

What quality of images are available?

Not every organization has a professional photographer on staff. If finding professional-quality images will be a challenge, it’s important to note this up front, so the design either doesn’t rely on imagery too heavily or uses a tasteful treatment that enhances photography, such as an overlay or blur. Alternatively, using photo editing software can greatly improve the aesthetic of DIY photography.

What size images are available?

A design should accommodate the resolutions of your images. Avoid scaling up images to maintain image quality. Knowing the size of each type of image in the beginning allows you to design with those resolutions in mind.

Does text need to accompany the imagery?

Some images might require a title or a caption. Identifying this need up front is ideal; however, if you learn some text needs to be added after the fact, don’t fret. Ensure that titles or captions are added separately from the image, so the message can be picked up by screen readers and search engines. Adding text directly into the image file should be avoided at all costs.

The more you know about your image needs and limitations, the easier it is to plan. However, if you’re not sure what kind of images might be used in what way, that’s ok too. Being aware of this unknown can lead to flexible decision-making that encompass a wide range of image possibilities. Just because you may have limited imagery options doesn’t mean it’s time to lose hope—a little communication and design planning can go a long way.

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