Imagery is one of the first things prospective students see when they arrive at your website or landing page. Even if you aren’t able to hire your own professional photographer, paying close attention can help you make a memorable and accurate first impression on students. Find out how to choose the right images for higher education website design – even if you’re limited to stock photography:

  1. Choose imagery that reflects your school’s brand. This will help your visitors to immediately identify who you are and what you do. Pay special attention to lifestyle, demographics and even color pallet. The more ways in which you can align your imagery with your brand, the better.
  2. Pay special attention to color, vibrancy and style. Form a consistent, site-wide look by seeking out images that go together. Look for photos that will maintain a uniform color pallet and vibrancy. To be sure your imagery doesn’t compete with your call to action, look for photos with more muted tones.
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  3. Include photos of people. Human faces tend to form a stronger connection with students than non-living objects, but even implied humanistic characteristics can work.
  4. Choose photos that display emotion. A connection can often be enhanced through empathy formed from an emotional response. When students experience certain emotions, their ability to be persuaded can often increase.
  5. Choose normal, everyday people. Stray from using models that look like they’re models. To form a stronger connection, choose photos of people who seem relatable or approachable.
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  6. Avoid the typical “stock” photo look. Try to choose photography that looks natural and not staged, posed or cliché. Staged photos can make you look phony or insincere, especially when you’re trying to build trust.
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  7. Avoid imagery that isn’t believable. Don’t use photographs that look unnatural or overly Photoshop-ed. Choose photos that appear crisp, in-focus and professional yet realistic.
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  8. Tell a story. Choose photos that offer a deeper message than merely a visual. Resist the urge to make the story too literal, but don’t tend toward overly generic either. Aim for a happy medium, leaving just enough up for interpretation to connect with the majority of your audience.
  9. Pay attention to images that could be subjective. A photo has the ability to completely change the meaning of a headline or other copy. Be sure your copy and imagery work well together.
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  10. Pay attention to directional cues within the imagery. There are many subtle cues in imagery that may seem subliminal, yet have a crucial effect on where users focus. Take advantage of cues such as line of sight, forward motion, pointing, or even the direction in which a model is facing to direct attention toward your call to action.

How do you choose the right imagery for higher education website design? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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Dusty Steinbrink

About Dusty Steinbrink

Dusty is a Designer and former Front End Developer on the Fathom Creative team. He is a graduate of Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Communication Design and a concentration in two-dimensional design. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Lake Erie College and has studied clinical counseling and consumer psychology at a graduate level. His expertise lies in creating dynamic designs that are strategy-driven, conversion optimization, user experience, and thought process analysis.

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