Content isn’t the only thing that makes a web page effective. Images are in part responsible for the persuasiveness of a web page.
There are thousands of stock photos available on the web, but using just any photo is dangerous because the wrong one can detract from the message you’re trying to send. If you’ve ever seen a goofy looking stock image, one that’s heavily photoshopped, or one that just didn’t fit with the topic, you may have left a page based on that photo before you ever got to the accompanying content.
Content is king, but people still make split second decisions about what they’re looking at on the web, whether it’s content or photos. An image may be the first thing your potential clients see. How do you decide if a stock photo is the right choice or know how to choose the right one? There are some easy rules to follow for making sure you get the most out of an image.
First, always choose images that convey authenticity. Your potential clients are smart, and anything that looks phony or silly to them may turn them away from your law firm’s website. Avoid images that look artificial or contain a lot of obviously photoshopped elements. These kinds of images can take away from your credibility.
The photos you choose should look natural. Avoid models in poses and instead try to choose images that are true to life. Don’t use the typically popular — and most often used — legal stock images. Gavels, balances, courthouse steps — these are all images that have been overused. They’ve been used so many times that if you use them too, you’ll fail to differentiate your law firm from your competitors.
It may be tempting to use legal themed photos, but these kinds of photos don’t always reinforce your message. In fact, they often times don’t convey much at all, and that’s a problem for your potential clients that find you on the web, because your website — and the photos you choose — are typically responsible for the first impression that a potential client will form about you. Photos should convey the personality of your law firm. A picture of a gavel usually doesn’t. Images should enhance the content on your law firm website while giving a sense of professionalism and tying into your message.
Choose photos that your potential clients can relate to, and that are on-topic. If your practice is local in nature, choose local images. Your photos should be related to your written content. Don’t simply choose a photo and try to force it to go along with your content.
Details, Details, Details
Choosing images with natural light is a good idea. You should also aim to use photos over illustrations.
There are locations on your law firm’s website where you should avoid the use of stock photos. Your attorney bio page is a good example of this. It’s one of the most visited pages on a law firm website, and that makes sense: your potential clients want to know about what sort of person you are before they decide to engage you. They’ll hire you based in part on your knowledge, and in part on what they can glean about your personality.
Avoid using stock photos of lawyers or business people. Not only are they not you, but your potential clients may wonder why there’s not a photo of you available, and that can create a sense of distrust. Or they may assume the stock photo is you, which can feel like a bait and switch when they meet you in person.
The photos found on your attorney bio page may be the first impression a potential client has of you, and it’s important to make sure that photo is a good representation of you that gives potential clients the sense that you’re a professional, that you’re polished, and that you’re confident. It is always worth having a professional headshot taken to ensure that the lighting and angles are correct.
Lastly, if you’re going to make use of stock photos, make sure that you have the license to use them. Companies such as Getty Images, for example, aggressively enforce copyrights and may come after you for violations.
Above all, being careless in your selection of images can have potential clients leaving your site before they’ve even heard what you have to say, but being careful and thoughtful when choosing photos for your law firm website can go a long way in enhancing your content and supporting the message you’re trying to send.