The header image, the picture right at the top of your home page, is like a movie trailer. It gives you just enough information to grab your attention but not so much that you click the back button. A great header image is a snippet of what kind of information to expect on the site and gives your site a little personality.
If you have visited most government websites, you must have noticed that they have a coat of arms and the agency's name instead of an image. It's plain and forgettable, but it works for them. Why? They are not competing for your attention. What they have, you often won't find anywhere else. You need them, and they know it. So why would they need to do more?
You don't have the same luxury. Whether you sell products, offer services, or are just seeking an audience, you must contend with the competition. So it helps to give yourself an edge and a great first impression, the best way to reel in the audience.
So, let's consider seven ways an appealing header image can help you grab your audiences'.
We have already made this point, but it's so critical that we need to repeat it. To demonstrate, according to Google Research, a website's visual factors cause visitors to form an opinion within 50ms (milliseconds) and sometimes as little as 17ms!
So approach your website like a first date. When you go out on a first date, you pull out all the stops. You clean yourself up, practice your smile in the mirror and rehearse your "best" look.
Keeping people on your site is slightly similar. If readers get to your site, they need a reason to stay. The right visual cues consisting of a combination of a header image, website theme, and landing page content gives them a reason to hang around.
When a person lands on your page, they want as much information from you as they can get using as little effort as possible. So when you are looking to increase subscriptions, create a mailing list, or run a sale, your header image is a great place to advertise.
Many sites use a pop-up 20 seconds into reading a post, but that's aggressive and irritating. Most people don't even read the pop-up message. So most people are looking for that little x at the corner to resume whatever we were doing.
Designing the promotion as a picture with a click away button is subtle and friendly.
We're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but we all do it. We like to think that none of us is that shallow, but we are. We find other ways to justify our obnoxious behavior. So, The second anyone lands on your page, you have a small window to keep them there. The right image give's your reader a reason to pause. Pause is good. Pause leads to thoughts that start with "I wonder." "I wonder if they have these exact products in stock" or "I wonder if they are based outside the area with that skyline." The wrong picture has them clicking away before the rest of the site loads, so choose wisely.
Site navigation can be a major reason why people click away. In an intranet scenario, someone looking for help would dial the I.T department and have someone talk them through their online journey. If your audience can't easily see what they want, they won't have the same level of patience.
The site has to be easy to navigate. A header pic pulls attention to the top of the page, where they can quickly scan through the tabs and find what they want.
The right header image tells your story at a glance. It shows what product or service you sell, your brand or other brands you deal in, and an emotional lure. We often see smiling people in hard hats for hardware or engineering, playful children in child-care products...you get the drift. A single glance tells your audience, "This is what I do, I'm good at it and I make people happy with my stuff."
The human brain is alarmingly easy to influence. Pictures on your desk convince others you're family-oriented, even though you skipped the last three Christmas dinners. Haircare products often feature smiling pictures of models sporting hair extensions. Yet we wouldn't be too eager to buy the same products if the label just said 'good for your hair.'
An image holds the power of influence. A used-car site will sport the picture of a car they probably don't even have on the lot, but it'll be so shiny that buyers will make their way to the lot anyway.
Picking the right image for your site convinces your readers that you are an authority on your chosen topic. And, this is true whether you are a hobby website or something more professional such as Managed Cloud, Your readers trust you based on the header image they first saw on your site.
One of your goals is to get ranked on Google. Naturally, you invest in quality content and sell quality products, but search engines need more than that. One of the variables that cause you to rank on the first page is the length of time people spend on your site (time on site) after searching for a keyword. Eye candy in the form of a great header image keeps people on the page and entices them to check out what more you have to offer. More time spent on your site reduces the bounce rate. This improves your quality score in search engines like Google, which improves your ranking, leading to more visitors. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
So, in conclusion, the question shouldn't be whether you need a header image; rather, which image should you choose for maximum effect. Setting up your webpage is like decorating the foyer of a building. You need it to communicate the best about you, and a picture is the best way to do that. At markITwrite we don’t just write content, we produce superb quality header images at just £20. Drop us a line today on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help you take your images to the next level.
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