Can you meet my needs?

happy manWhen someone visits a website for the first time, they make a quick, intuitive decision whether to continue reading the site or move on to another site.  I believe that decision is based on 3 questions the visitor is looking to the website to answer:  “Can I trust you?”  “Am I welcome here?” and “Can you meet my needs?”

Because this is a largely an intuitive decision, images can play a significant role in it.  Today we look at how images can help to positively answer the third question “Can you meet my needs?”

Needs?  What needs?

If you’re going to show your visitors that you can meet their needs, the first thing you have to do is find out what people are looking for.  You could probably guess if you had to, but the best way to learn that is to ask your existing customers, members, or participants why they came to you.

Once you know what your visitors are looking for, then you can show pictures of people happy and satisfied with your product, service, or organization.  Let’s get practical with some real-world examples.

happy childrens ministrySatisfied church members.  Since a lot of Christian Web Trends readers manage church websites, let start by considering what first-time visitors to a church website are looking for.  What do the members of your church say drew them to your church?  If it’s the warm, friendly people, show a picture of new people being warmly greeted by staff or volunteers.  If it’s the inspiring worship music, include an image of people worshiping.  If it’s the authoritive, Biblical teaching, show a picture of people listening to the pastor preach.  If it’s the engaging children’s ministry, display an image children excitedly learning about God.  For each church it will be different.  And if you’re saying to yourself, “Yeah, all of those things,” read on and I’ll let you in on some helpful tips.

teacher and studentEducated, well-rounded students.  If you manage a school website, what are first-time visitors to your website looking for?  They are probably looking for a school that produces educated, well-rounded children, but again what do the parents of your students say drew them to your school?  If it’s the personal interaction of teachers with students, show a picture of teacher giving a student one-on-one help.  If it’s Christian education, include a picture of students in chapel or reading their Bibles in class.  If it’s the extra-curricular activities, show a photo of kids engaged in sports or arts or field trips.

Impactful ministries.  If you manage a ministry website, what are first-time visitors to your website looking for?  Again, it’s best to ask.  If it’s a specific kind of help, include a picture people receiving help.  If it’s to get involved with an organization that is making an impact on a particular problem, show a photo of volunteers making an impact.

happy customersEnjoying the benefits.  If you manage a business, what are first-time visitors to your website looking for?  No, it’s not your products or services.  People don’t buy products; they buy the benefits the products provide.  If you sell vitamins, show a picture of health people.  If you sell beauty products, include a picture of beautiful people.  If you provide mortgages, incorporate a picture of a happy families in their home.  If you sell educational material, show a picture of attentive-looking children.

Three cheers for photos

As we close out this series on using images to engage first time website visitors, here are three bonus tips.

  1. Testimonial pictures.  If have a hard time envisioning a photograph that would exemplify a happy and satisfied customer, member, participant, use testimonials and include smiling pictures of the people whose testimonials you use.
  2. Flash slideshows.  After reading this series, you may be inspired to include photos on your homepage that convey authenticity and competence, plus several pictures that demonstrate all ages, genders, and ethnicities are welcome, and some more images that show happy customers/members.  That could take up a lot of real estate on a web page.  So, consider using a Flash slideshow that rotates through a series of images like this example.
  3. Go for the trifecta.  Another way to save web page real estate is to use pictures that convey trust, welcome, and satisfaction.  For example, if you manage a church website, consider putting an image on the homepage of your senior pastor eagerly welcoming a happy multi-racial family.  

What pictures are on your homepage?  Have you intentionally selected photos that show people who are happy as a result of what your organization has to offer?

If you enjoyed this article or found it interesting, vote for it at Blogs4God so others can see it as well.

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

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  1. Using Pictures to Answer the Three Questions Every Website Visitor Has | Christian Web Trends Blog - Jan 18, 2011

    [...] Can you meet my needs? People arrive at every website looking for something whether it’s information, a product, [...]