Images are surprisingly important to your visitors and to their experience while visiting your website. Images are a human element that allows us to relate to the content. They are the aesthetic crux of any website. Images are powerful design elements which bring color and style to the page while visually informing visitors about the subject matter.
If your goal is to sell your products, product images are essential. People will not purchase what they can’t see. Two reasons for this are (1) If a customer can’t see the product for sale, she can’t judge the size, weight, design, or any of the aesthetic qualities of the product. These things are what makes her love the product to begin with. If she can’t visualize the product, she can hardly imagine herself using it in her daily routine. (2) Product images help to establish trust. Here is what we’re selling, in great and glorious detail. No shady deals here. Customers are skeptical of a business that doesn’t show the products they are selling. This small feeling of doubt is enough to stop most transactions. It is notoriously difficult to measure the impact of image quality on product purchase, but we can tell you from many years of experience that higher quality images sell more products. Without a product image, your customers will find themselves Googling the product name to see what they’re buying, and that is simply a lost sale.
If you are using WordPress, your website is already capable of using images in dynamic ways. WordPress websites are setup to use your featured images in various locations to direct visitors to your content. I like to think of featured images as “smart images”, because a single image can be used in so many different places, depending on how the information is to be presented. But we wouldn’t want to add just any image to the featured images, because then we are presenting a low quality representation of the content. If we are using a placeholder image, then we are generalizing our content. Remember, “content is king” for websites, so we want our images to accurately represent the page subject matter.
Free Image Sources
My favorite way to get great images is from Flickr. Most the images here are privately owned and not available. But Flickr allows us to sort through the images that are available. If you go to Flickr Creative Commons Search there will simply be a giant list of all the images available for commercial use.
To search by subject, go to Advanced Flickr Search and enter your keywords, scroll down and select “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and “Find content to use commercially”. This will give you a custom search result with all the legal rights to use the image on your website as long as you cite your source.
note: Please be sure to independently verify the copyright status of every image you use on your website.