It’s something of a given that using images on your webpages will undoubtedly make for a better viewing experience for visitors on your site – bland, lifeless pages crammed with walls of text will render your pages almost inaccessible to a significant chunk of your target audience. With that in mind though, it’s also imperative you consider the purpose of any images you use, as one wrong choice can in turn have the adverse effect and potentially dissuade visitors from using your site.

For obvious reasons, put some thought into what image/s you intend on using. While it’s true that pages will look void of life and dull without one, you mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking anything will do. Additionally, there are several other factors you ought to consider when adding photos to your website. Is it relevant to the content of your site? Does it correspond with the overall aesthetic of the site? Have you thought about the placement and what benefits or disadvantages that may bring about? Would your page benefit from multiple images?

So you’ve picked your image, now what? Visually, a simple image can help de-clutter your posts, sure. But think about how the image can work for you. Part of The Nielsen Norman Group – an evidence-based user research site, Jakob Nielsen took part in an eye-tracking study that evaluated the impact of images on websites. This study concluded a number of things, namely that users pay close attention to photos and other images that contain relevant information but ignore fluffy pictures used to “jazz up” webpages.

Notice how the photo used was almost entirely ignored, as it contributes nothing to the page other than a means to fill a blank space. While the students pictured are clearly relevant to Yale School of Management, it does next to nothing in the way of supplying information on how to apply. As such, it’s vital that you put thought into your image usage and whether it’s useful to your users.

Consider the following:

• Does the image convey a message?

• How do you personally respond to the image, and does it draw your attention?

• If your photo is intended to market a product, does it illustrate the concept of what you’re marketing – can you envisage yourself using the product?

It’s worth considering how the image and its placement can encourage users to hone in on specific areas of your page; utilise images that quite literally point to your content!

There are also of course, less obvious things to contemplate when using images. For example, file size is indeed an issue – typically speaking, the average webpage is 1.28mb. More than half of that is attributed to images alone. What does this information mean for your site? Well, should your site be dependent on its use of images, you may find that it slows down your user’s experience; this is especially true of those using mobile and tablet devices. For help reducing the file size of larger images, there are many free image optimisation apps such as TinyPNG and Smush. it that can save you time and hassle.

There are many benefits to using images on your site that transcend filling space and maintaining a certain aesthetic – practice incorporating them into your pages to improve the user experience. A little thought can go a long way, and providing your content is up to standard, you’ll be reaping the rewards in no time.