So, what’s the best way to tell my story on my website? Let’s challenge you…
People respond and connect to a range of different visual styles. When you’re planning the formatting of your pages, also remember this paraphrased clip:
From the beginning of time to the year 2013, 5 exabytes, that’s 5 quintillion bytes of data, were ever produced. In today’s context, 5 exabytes of data were produced yesterday and mainly from consumers. (WikiBrands – Moffitt and Dover).
Why is that relevant? Because this is what you’re up against! People are very selective about what they read because there’s so much out there. Online data is free; you’re less likely to read it if you haven’t had to pay for it. You must shine through the sheer volume of ‘noise’ to get noticed.
The temptation is to dump everything on the home page of your website. Don’t crowd your page. Use your menu bar and add links to the landing pages of each subject, then decide what the best images or video link should be. You are very close to your own product, so please don’t be tempted to do this alone.
Rationalize every image and take as many of those shots yourself with your smartphone – good quality and unambiguous – to tell your own story. Then readers will see original shots from you alone. That’s also what will segregate you from all the others.
Be guided by what your competitors are doing, use some of the common language within your business to demonstrate expertise, then be ORIGINAL. If you have tools or special equipment, show them at work maybe in the background. That will demonstrate your capacity and expertise.
All images can be cropped to take out irrelevance. Crop out distractions, anything that diverts the attention of your readers from the main story within the image.
Mike Butters Photography in Winchester gave me some good advice about personal/ staff portraits. He endorsed the notion of diversions and added that things like bumps, blemishes, moles, double chins (as if) can all be softened with the right lighting. It is certainly worth using a studio for lighting, backcloth, and the eye and the skill from a portrait photographer. He will show you how to look through the lens, too. He will fill 80% of the frame with face; this must be YOU, the person/ the people I’m dealing with!
For the rest of the website, use light and breezy smartphone shots which tell your business’s story in context.
There is a great danger for small businesses to dress up their company to over-impress and to look ‘corporate’. You must think through and characterise your brand to prove yourself to be reachable and human, not corporate. Stay clear of wistful, aspirational characters.
Library shots to avoid:
- Images of flood-lit, hi-tech offices brimming with beautiful, scrubbed people.
- The boss looking like a second Messiah showing benevolence to his staff.
- Unless it really is your team, clusters of immaculate, multi-ethnic under 25’s.
- Ridiculously smart actors/models smiling inanely at each other and shaking hands like long lost friends as if they’ve just won the lottery.
- Painted toddlers. Fluffy dogs running for a stick. Characters on the edge of a cliff with arms spread-eagled. Unless of course, your business is toddlers, dogs or hang-gliding!
Opt for a faithful representation of your product in a clever way – some serious, some funny. Show yourself as human and sincere but not as a clod.
Images should do a Ronseal – always do what they say on the tin. Let them tell your story with no ambiguity in image form.
‘A picture paints a thousand words.’
Image and Images – The best, clean van image and the best company name I’ve seen for a while was in Brighton on 12 March – SpruceSpringClean. A stroke of genius. How can you forget that? Your website must live up to your image, of course.
Photo Libraries – Dreamstime.com and others will offer some free library shots, but istock offers one of best ranges. Anything free will be widely used, of course. Avoid photographic clichés, if there is such an expression.
Keep it real, keep it about you and what you do and where you’ve done it. Yes, take shots on site, ‘real time’, with your client’s permission. Before and after shots.
Images should be memorable or why bother?
Show that you’re human and that you love your work – practice smartphone shots to show off your best achievements. Then deploy!
SET THE BAR: use images that people will remember and tell others about.