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How Photography can Maximise Website Conversions
Readers look first at the illustration, then at the headline, then at the copy.
If you recognised that quote (top points if you did) you might not be surprised to hear Im going through a bit of an Ogilvy phase. This followed my Richard Branson phase which mainly came about as I totally see myself owning a tropical island and working from a hammock in the future but I digress. Ever since getting into a conversation with a copywriter about Ogilvy, I have been engrossed in his books and intrigued by his theories on advertising and how easily they can be applied to user interface design.
His extremely successful agency Ogilvy and Mather worked hard to discover what worked and what didnt and although he hated rules he still managed to come up with 15 tried and tested ways to use photographs to turn his advertisements into money-making machines. Not all of them are relevant in todays world or with regards to the web, but here are the theories that I believe can still be applied:
- The subject is more important than the technique.
Ogilvy said that if you dont have a particularly good idea for your photo, not even a great photographer can save you.
- Photos work best when they arouse a readers curiosity.
The more intrigue you inject into the photos, the more people will look at your advertisement or in this case the rest of your website.
Photography used on The Coach website
- Photos sell more than drawings
Photographs are deemed more believable and better remembered. Ogilvy managed to triple the success of a campaign by substituting the drawings for photographs.
- Keep it simple
Focus your photos on one person. Crowd scenes dont pull
- Before and after pictures fascinate people
If you have a product or service where this can be applied its worth knowing that in a study of 70 campaigns there wasnt a single before and after campaign that did not increase sales.
- Men prefer pictures of men, women prefer pictures of women.
People want to see photos of people with whom they can identify.
- Enlarged close-ups of faces repel readers!
I can really relate to this one. People tend to get squeamish / intimidated / put off when faced with, well, a face! Especially I imagine, if its not a particularly attractive one.
- Use recognisable people or characters
It helps in making your brand / website / advertisement more memorable.
- When you dont have a story to tell in your photo, make your product the subject.
Photo taken by Irving Penn for Philippe Saalburg of FCB-Impact in Paris
Using photos to represent or communicate your content is one of the best ways of connecting with your site visitors and getting your message across. But theres much more depth and potential to them; if you carefully think and plan them, theres clear evidence they enhance the user experience, and ultimately increase site conversions.
A website is an advert, no matter which way you look at it. Once you realise this, you can apply processes and tactics that make it more user-centric and ultimately successful.
Ogilvy on Advertising David Ogilvy 1983.