I believe that every person who visits a website for the very first time arrives with the same three questions. And the strategic use of pictures on a website can go along way towards giving visitors the answers they’re looking for.
It doesn’t matter what kind of site it is – an e-commerce site for a clockmaker in Switzerland, a site for a small church in Howie in the Hills, FL, or a health site covering the topic of back hair. It doesn’t matter who the person is – man or woman, old or young, white, black, brown or green. Sometimes a person is consciously looking for the answers, but often the questions lie just under the surface in the subconscious.
So, what are the three questions?
I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to speak to the importance of images on a website.
No Sergeant Friday, Not Just the Facts
The Internet was originally developed by university researchers primarily for the purpose of sharing information, bandwidth was low, and so it was primarily a text medium. But over the last several decades the Internet has morphed into a media-rich medium for the masses. While a certain amount of Internet usage is still research and in-depth reading, a lot of Internet usage today is “surfing” or “hit and run” quests for specific things.
People search for something in a search engine, click through to one of the sites in the results, take a quick look at the site, and within 15-60 seconds decide whether to continue to look around the site or go back to the search results and try another site.
During that 15-60 seconds when a person is scanning the homepage and deciding whether to spend more time on the site or not a lot is going on between their ears. This is not primarily a left-brain (analytical) activity. Fifteen seconds is not enough time to gather all the facts, analyze them, and make a rational decision.
While the person may be reading some facts, the person is also forming an intuitive impression of the website based on colors, images, layout, and the language on the web page. The ratio of rational to intuitive thought that goes into the decision varies from person to person and situation to situation, but ultimately after 15-60 seconds the person makes a gut-level decision.
If you are primarily relying on text to keep new visitors on your website for more than a minute, you are missing half their brain. You are pretty much showing their right brain a blank screen.
If you do have images on your site but have never really thought about the impression they give your visitors, you may actually be turning away visitors without even knowing it.
So, what are those three questions?
1) Can I trust you? People want to know if they can believe what is on your site. Are you honest? Are you credible? Or are you a fool or a scam artist?
2) Am I welcome here? People want to know if they will fit in with your organization. This is less important with transactional and informational sites, but very important for organizations and businesses based on relationships.
3) Can you meet my needs? People arrive at every website looking for something whether it’s information, a product, entertainment, a friend, or something else. They want to know if by choosing you, they will really find what they’re looking for.
Whether consciously or sub-consciously every visitor to your website is assessing your website on these 3 factors. In our next 3 articles, I’m going take each question one at a time and talk about how to use images on your website to answer that question positively for your visitors.
Have you considered what your website is saying (or not saying) about you through pictures?
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