A Developer’s Guide: Using Powerful Images to Elevate Your Site

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Mette Adams
June 26, 2024
3 minute read
Developer's Guide: Using Powerful Images to Elevate Your Site image


In today's tech world, being a web developer means more than writing code. To build a wildly effective website, you also need to think about how the site’s design affects a visitor's interest, understanding, and engagement — and about how you can work most efficiently to achieve the best results.

Investing in a thoughtful visual strategy that tells a uniquely intriguing story can help turn a basic website into a compelling, memorable, and effective channel for reaching your audience. As users demand more visual experiences, web developers like you are realizing the enormous value of impactful visual page components. In fact, a study by Missouri University of Science and Technology about web page design and user engagement found that 94% of the feedback from test participants was about the design of a website, while only 6% of feedback was related to the website’s content.

In short, images matter and great visual media is good for your visitors, your business goals, and your workflows. Here’s how.

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Grab Users’ Attention — and keep it

People process visual information 60,000 times faster than text, which is why content with great images is better at capturing and holding a user's attention. Images aid in comprehension, learning, and decision-making for users by presenting data and concepts in a more digestible visual format. Highly visual web pages also offer a better user experience, making web pages more attractive, engaging, memorable, and shareable. 

Stop Their Scroll

  • Storytelling and Emotional Connection: Images have the power to convey emotions and connect with users on a deeper level. When used effectively, they can tell a compelling story, evoke specific feelings, or create a desired atmosphere. Web developers can leverage this aspect of images to enhance the overall narrative and emotional impact of a website.
  • Get attention: Research shows that images with bright colors, subtle movement, and human faces are particularly effective in grabbing your user’s attention.
  • Reinforce your brand: Logos, icons, and on-brand graphics establish and reinforce a brand's identity on the web, fueling brand recognition, affinity, and loyalty.
  • Optimize your SEO: Proper image optimization, including descriptive file names, alt text, and image sitemaps, can help search engines better understand and index the visual content on a website. When you use great images with all the bells and whistles, it can really help boost your site’s ranking on the results page of search engines like Google.
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Get Them on the Page Fast

  • Bolster SEO: In addition to metadata, page load speed is one of the primary factors that helps search engines like Google prioritize your site, which can improve organic traffic. 
  • Prevent user frustration: When images are optimized, so is the user experience. Slow-loading pages can lead to frustration and high bounce rates, and studies have shown that even a one-second delay in page load time can result in a significant decrease in decreased conversion rates, such as sales, lead generation, and user sign-ups. Users are more likely to abandon a slow website before completing their desired action, resulting in lower user satisfaction, decreased conversions, and lost revenue.
  • Improve performance on mobile: Research shows that more than 92% of internet users go online using a mobile phone and over 60% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. Because mobile devices often have slower internet connections and limited data plans, fast-loading pages are essential for keeping this massive audience engaged
  • Reduce cost: Faster websites require fewer server resources and less bandwidth, which can lead to reduced hosting and infrastructure costs — especially for high-traffic websites.
  • Get trustworthy data: Page load speed can affect the accuracy of web analytics and tracking tools. If pages take too long to load, users may leave before the tracking scripts have a chance to fire, leading to inaccurate data and incorrect insights.
  • Outdo your competitors: A fast and responsive website helps you meet users’ high expectations and edge out the competition.
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Hold Attention Longer

  • Navigation and User Interface: Images are frequently used as part of user interface elements, such as icons, buttons, and navigation menus. Well-designed and intuitive image-based UI elements can improve the usability and overall user experience of a website, making it more intuitive and easier to navigate.
  • Make it easy to read: Well-placed and relevant images break up large blocks of text, making content less intimidating and more scannable and digestible. 
  • Be informative: Images help communicate ideas, concepts, and information that may be more difficult to convey through text alone. Whether it's a visual diagram to accompany instructions or an evocative landscape to reinforce the emotion of an essay, images help users comprehend content faster, which keeps them more engaged for longer.
  • Build emotional connections: Images that support your written information help transform raw facts into stories that make your audience feel something. This emotional connection turns visitors from passive viewers into active participants, increasing their time spent on your site and returning visits thereafter.
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Make it Memorable

  • Improve recall: Relevant, high-quality images that evoke emotions are more easily remembered than neutral information. Whether it’s a peaceful landscape on a wellness homepage or an hard-hitting infographic on a financial site, the right images make your content resonate more deeply, which makes users more likely to remember and share it.
  • Background Images and Textures: Background images and textures can add depth, dimension, and visual interest to a website's layout. Web developers can use these elements to create unique and visually appealing designs, while also reinforcing the overall branding and aesthetic of the website.
  • Interactive and Immersive Experiences: With advancements in web technologies, web developers can incorporate interactive and immersive image-based experiences, such as image sliders, galleries, panoramic views, and even virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) experiences. These types of experiences can enhance user engagement and provide unique ways for users to interact with visual content.
  • Encourage sharing: Highly visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared across social and linked to by other sites. This increased social activity drives more traffic to your site, which extends your content's reach and site's backlink profile, further enhancing your SEO clout.
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Improve Your Workflows

Thoughtfully incorporating images into your workflows not only makes your content more appealing to your audience, it can also help you improve efficiency, reduce redundancies, and ultimately save time and resources.

Unlock Efficiency

  • Eliminate lengthy text: Instead of relying solely on text to convey information, web developers can use images to quickly and effectively communicate complex ideas, processes, or instructions. This can significantly reduce the time and effort required to create detailed textual explanations.
  • Communicate along the way: Images that don’t make it into public-facing content can also be of great use. The right visuals can more quickly convey design concepts, user interface elements, or overall site structure to your team, stakeholders, and clients, saving time and confusion along the way.
  • Reuse assets: Images can be repurposed and adapted for various contexts, such as social media posts, marketing materials, or presentations, which saves you from sourcing new images for every instance. 
  • Leverage Auto-Formatting: Utilize code editor extensions, APIs, or built-in tools that automatically format your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to maintain consistent styling and improve code readability across your project.
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Always Source Excellent Visual Media

Now that we know the incredible effect images can have on your audience and your workflow, here are some tips to make sure your visual media is always top tier.

  • Balance image quality and file size: To ensure fast loading times and optimal performance, consider factors such as image formats (e.g., AVIF, JPEG, PNG, SVG), file sizes, responsive design techniques, and accessibility standards.
  • Choose responsive design: People access sites from all kinds of devices, so choosing adaptive images makes sure your site looks the best it possibly can, no matter what screen your viewer is using.
  • Optimize loading time: Commit to high performance standards by adopting performance-focused coding practices like minifying and compressing code, lazy loading, cacheing your browser, and relying on content delivery networks (CDNs). 
  • Automate your optimization: Simple standard APIs can streamline image optimization processes such as compression, resizing, and format conversion, saving time and ensuring consistent image quality and performance across the website.
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  • Manage your assets: Create a well-organized image library with proper naming conventions and metadata auto-tagging to make it easier to locate, update, and reuse existing assets.
  • Use placeholder images: During the design and prototyping phases, use placeholder images or mockups to quickly visualize and iterate on the layout and structure of web pages. You can complete the image sourcing and coding once all decisions are final.
  • Choose unique images: To differentiate in a crowded landscape, be thoughtful and choose standout images to ensure an engaging experience that helps retain current users and attract new ones. Think outside the box in order to stand out yet remain true to your brand.
  • Consider accessibility and usability: While beautiful imagery enhances user experiences, it's also important to ensure images are optimized and accessible. Proper alt-text, image dimensions, compression, and color contrast all impact usability for users with disabilities or constrained devices and bandwidth. As developers, we always need to think about image optimization.
Key Takeaways image

Key Takeaways:

In short, as a web developer, you’ll benefit from using visual media that is: 

  • Engaging and aligned to your brand story
  • Optimized for performance
  • Compatible with responsive design principles
  • Customizable and controllable
  • Organized and seamlessly integrated with CMS platforms
  • Accessible and digestible for all users
  • Supported by documentation and ongoing support 

When all of these components are in place, you make the most of both the web design and the functionality of your sites, delivering optimal user experiences that visitors will remember and share in service of your greater business goals.

For more tips on developing an excellent developer visual media strategy, check out these Top 10 Qualities of Images That Move Mountains, our infographic checklist for sourcing images that make the most impact.