Using Images and Video in Design
When you’re designing a web page for a modern audience, you always do so with a few goals in mind. One of those goals is usability; you need your audience to intuit how you intend them to use the tool that is your site. Another is search-engine friendliness; you want the search engines to be able to understand what your site is about and rank it for appropriate keywords. Equally important as the other two, you need your site to be engaging; you need surfers who happen upon your site to want, upon seeing it, to stick around and learn more.
That’s accomplished through strong graphics — both pictures and video — to draw the surfer in by providing basic information about your site in a way that the surfer cannot help but understand. And while we understand that not everyone has access to a professional photographer or videographer, there are plenty of resources for stock photography and stock videos.
Don’t Design a Page, Design Content
Modern web designers spend a lot less time fussing with backgrounds, color schemes, and the persistent features for a site that shows up on every page. They spend a lot more time making the part the end-users care about — the content — easy on the eye and comprehensible at a glance.
Part of that process is actually designing the text. Large, clear fonts direct attention to smaller but important areas. Center-aligned text with plenty of white space makes comprehension easier on the brain. Reducing the cognitive load on your surfer is always better as long as you can get the core message across.
The Visual Elements
The rest of that process is taken up in images and videos. These critical elements are a huge part of capturing a surfer’s attention for one simple reason; the brain naturally points its attention at the most obvious thing in front of it, and it processes images faster than the eye is capable of looking away again. So if you’re designing a website around a bakery and you’re not centering that site around a nice big picture of some delicious-looking baked good, you’re doing your client a disservice.
Videos are just as critical for maintaining interest. You can have a video that starts automatically upon the surfer reaching the site, but that’s an iffy prospect. Many surfers would rather avoid a site than have to turn off a video they’ve already seen every time they visit. Fortunately, the Play button alone is a powerful, easily-recognized symbol that today’s YouTube-fuelled surfers have a hard time resisting, so auto-play really isn’t necessary.
Keep It Simple, But Keep It Interesting, Too
The only thing you need to avoid in your quest for simplicity and usability is making your page so Spartan that it becomes dull. You can fall into a similar trap over-using classic templates and over-done themes. There’s no need to shortcut the design process in ways that end up making your web page look so much like its peers that surfers can’t tell (and thus don’t care) which site they’re actually on.
When you combine a simple, unique theme with well-placed and eye-catching graphics and videos, backed up with the right kind of text layout, your web page will be like a single potato chip; the first taste will whet your senses and leave you hunting for more. Design sites with that goal in mind, and your clients will adore you.