Web design may be highly subjective, but there is no doubt that some things look good and others look bad. While color, layout and general presentation can all combine to make something look good or otherwise, images are perhaps the most central way in which a website can project its visual identity. But not all images are the same, and some will be much more usable for your particular project. From the perspective of design, the images you choose will shape how your website will look and feel. But what makes an image a good choice, and what factors should you examine to get the best for your web design project?
The first thing to think about whenever you are considering royalty free stock photos is the subject. The subject and the way it is presented will convey the message of the image, and it is important to choose an image that does this in a visually appealing way. Some images will be abstract, in which case the subject will be usually a less prominent or obvious feature of the visual. But for those images that have an object, or physical subject, in their midst, the design choice is whether that form of presentation works for your website. Different images can mean and say very different things, and even factors such as lighting can have a major impact on how a photo or image is received.
Aside from the aesthetic quality of the subject, and the arrangement of the picture, you also need to think seriously about color. Color includes both foreground and background colors, because it is often the case that you will design images to sit flush against the background of the site. This means that images with white backgrounds, for example, can usually only be used in designing white websites. The ideal scenario is to use images with transparent backgrounds, or images that are color-matched to your design. Even subtle differences in tone can make an image look unnatural or out of place, so it is important to get as close a match as possible for best results.
Size is another crucial issue. As a general rule of thumb, larger images are always better for use in design. This is because you can shrink a large image down. Small images, however, don’t contain enough data to be blown up to larger sizes, giving that pixel-heavy, blurry design quality that every good designer knows to avoid. At the same time, large images can affect page load times, and so they should almost always be shrunk down to size anyway. But starting from a larger canvas is always the better idea, so you have more to work with to get the image you want.
A website’s design is only as good as the images contained in it. While there are no right or wrong answers in design, these generally accepted principles of good image choice can help guide your selection in the right direction.