The human brain processes imagery much faster than written text, so it makes sense the photography on your church or non-profit’s website plays a major role in its overall presentation.
Choosing the right photos for your site helps it to convey your church’s message and set accurate expectations for an in-person visit on a Sunday morning.
In the same manner, choosing poor photos for your church’s website can really deter a site visitor from deciding to visit your church and will contribute to a negative impression.
Below are 5 tips to help you use images wisely for your church or non-profit’s website.
1. Stay away from low-res or pixelated images
Photos that are low-resolution, or blurry with individual visible pixels, should never show up on a website. The convenience of using photos taken with any camera phone is not worth the impression it gives your site visitors.
The pixilation creates difficulty to see what is in the actual image. You want your site to give a clear representation of your ministry!
Not only that, but using low-res photos on your church website hurts your visual presentation because it looks unprofessional. It will make site visitors wonder if the website (or reaching new people) is a priority to you. (perhaps include link here to another article about taking their own quality photos)
2. Do Not Use Clip Art – Ever!
The world of clip art was once an exciting new development and has helped add visual appeal to presentations and other desktop publishing needs over the years. Clip art was also found as a common element on websites during the early years of the Internet.
However, it’s not the ‘90s anymore. Using clip art in your website (or anything) makes it look outdated and thrown together. Most clip art is cartoonish, and unfortunately anything that it’s used for will give a childish impression as well.
It doesn’t matter how “cute” you think the image is. It’s not going to contribute to a positive reflection for your church website.
3. No Outdated Photography
Just like outdated text content is a huge killer for your website, using outdated photos also increases the likelihood a site visitor will choose to close out of your website and look elsewhere for a church.
Your website’s goal is to make as positive of a first impression of your church as possible and lead first-time visitors to visit your church in person. Don’t have images of staff leaders on your website if they no longer serve your church. Don’t have an image of your sanctuary or church exterior on your site if it’s been renovated and looks completely different than it did when the picture was taken.
Your site visitors expect to see in person what is found on your website and having outdated photography sets up unrealistic expectations. Outdated images give the impression the site hasn’t been updated and consequently that reaching new people is not a priority.
If there’s outdated photography on your site, take it down! Make it a priority to retake them. It’s worth it to your church and making that first impression count on your website to include only up-to-date images. The effort to retake images for your site is much smaller than the effort it would take to undo a developed negative impression of your website and church.
4. Use Relevant Images
Building off of the previous point, allow your website to portray your church as realistically as possible by using only relevant images. By “relevant images” we mean photography that features your actual ministry.
It may be tempting to use stock images found online of happy looking people on your website, especially if you don’t have the resources for producing your own photography. Yet doing so is ingenuous and deceptive. Pictures that represent your real congregation and your real community will better connect to your visitors.
For example, imagine how confused you would feel if you were browsing a website for a church you were considering visiting and saw photos of people of various ethnicities all dressed in casual clothing. You visit their church only to find that everyone is of one skin tone and in formal attire. You would feel largely misled by the expectations perceived on the website and likely to feel out of place.
Even if your site uses stock images that closely resemble the physical appearance of your congregation or church facility, you’re still opening the door for skepticism if they arrive and see something completely different from what they were expecting based on the impression your site gave them.
If you must use stock images, try not to include faces of people or images that look too “fake”.
5. Use Small File Sizes
Ideally, you shouldn’t be uploading images bigger than 1MB to your website. The smaller file size, the better. Large file sizes mean your site will take longer to load.
If you upload large images, your visitors will likely leave before waiting for it to load completely. Additionally, fast load times help your site rank better in Google searches. If the image is of a decent quality, you shouldn’t have to upload a 30MB image for it to maintain its resolution.
Remember, the images on your website play a large role in shaping visitors’ first impressions of your website and, ultimately, your church or non-profit long before they ever step foot in the door. Make sure your site gives visitors a reason to visit by using quality, relevant photos that accurately reflect your ministry and what visitors can expect upon seeing it in person.
Low-resolution images and clip art will automatically turn people off. Likewise, outdated photography paves the way for unrealistic and eventually unmet expectations.
Design.faith is a design agency offering web design and creative services to small and medium sized churches and non-profits. Our team publishes content regularly to help churches connect design and faith. We want to focus on your ministry’s specific needs and creating a unique web presence to help you reach your community. Contact us today if you are ready to get started or have questions about how we may be able to serve the design needs of your ministry.