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Photos for your online shop: five tips and a checklist

To the German article

Nowadays, images are an indispensable part of an online shop and are far more than just placeholders or a way of "beautifying" your shop. On the contrary. It is said that we "eat with our eyes". But that’s not all: we buy with our eyes too. In other words, photos and pictures are crucial to the success of your online business. Meaningful images not only entice customers to your shop but they also reinforce the content and products. They can steer the mood of the person looking in a certain direction and ensure an emotional shopping experience.

You want potential customers to feel at ease in your shop and to have fun browsing your pages and putting products in their baskets. In this blog post we have therefore put together for you the key aspects you should consider when choosing and presenting images in your online shop. We have also supplemented it with helpful online tools and a checklist.

#1 Find the right images

Are you still in need of photos for your online shop? And perhaps you don’t want to either take them yourself, hire a photographer or pay for the images. Then the ideal solution is stock photos which are permitted for free commercial use without mentioning credits. Such images are usually subject to the CC0 licence. There are numerous websites which offer these images to download. We present our top 3!

Free image material for commercial use

unsplash.com

image_research_with_unsplash_for_freely_usable_images

Unsplash has been in existence since 2013 and has recorded over a trillion downloads since then. With over one million images, the choice is correspondingly large. The best way to find images is by entering English search terms.

pixabay.com

image_research_with_pixabay_for_freely_usable_images

The Pixabay licence covers the images and videos on Pixabay. Those in charge write that safe use is permitted for commercial purposes too. Attribution of the source is voluntary. Convenient: the page and community are German so you can easily search using German terms.

pexels.com

image_research_with_pexels_for_freely_usable_images

There are many photos and videos to discover for free commercial use here too. Convenient: you can filter your search results by colours or themes, making it even easier to find what you are looking for. The search function is also available in different languages.

Caution: You should bear in mind these aspects

Despite the often generous licences, you cannot just use stock photos indiscriminately. Most stock photo pages give a very clear and comprehensive explanation of what you may and may not do (cf. Unsplash, Pexels and Pixabay). Here are a few examples:

Persons depicted: In many cases you are not allowed to suggest that the people depicted on the photos recommend or endorse your product. A no-go: presenting people in an offensive way or in an objectionable context.

Distribution: Many providers of stock photos highlight the fact that you are not allowed to share the photos on other stock photo sites or sell them

Trademark law: brands, logos and trademarks depicted on photos are subject to trademark law where possible. Depending on the context and visibility, you are not allowed to just use them without the permission of the copyright owner. It could actually be suggested that you want to profit from the good reputation of a well-known brand or that you have a commercial link with it. You have found the perfect stock photo, but you can see a logo on it. In many cases it is sufficient just to edit the image so that the logo is no longer visible. 

Example of an image before and after retouching. The brand logo on the right can no longer be seen.

⚠️ Note: As licensing guidelines can change, you should check the sources listed once again for any updates before use.

#2 Avoid long loading times

Large, high-resolution striking images not only look stylish but also catch the eye and captivate your customers – or drive them away, since they slow down load times with their high requirement for storage space. The keyword here is: performance. On average, loading a website should not take longer than three seconds. With every second that passes, the bounce rates increases. Ultimately, users prefer to buy products from an online shop which loads faster. You don’t like waiting either, do you?

To reduce loading times you should optimise your images by reducing the file size. There are various free online tools available for this, which you can use to compress image file sizes by up to 70-80%, without visibly impairing the image quality. Note: to guarantee good performance for your shop, images should not be larger than 200-300 KB as a rule.

Free online tools:

#3 SEO: Increase the visibility of your shop images in search engines

In terms of search engine optimisation (SEO), optimised images are also essential in order to be displayed in the search results when a keyword is entered in the search bar. If your images are displayed in the search bar, they lead potential customers to your shop.

You probably update the texts and images in your shop using the administration using HTML codes. The following attributes are often used:

  • “src” (source)
  • “alt” (alternative text)
  • “title”

Optimise your images and their visibility in search engines by formulating very detailed and precise descriptions of the images in alt text format as it conveys the image content to search engines.

Let's take a closer look:

All of this becomes clearer by an example. We have chosen a picture of scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone and want to show you positive and negative examples with regard to the alt-text format.

Beispielbild_Eis_Stockbild_unsplash

Our examples refer to this picture. (Source: unsplash.com)

Better not like this:

<img id="tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" class="tinymce-editor-image tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" src="https://www.shopware.com/media/image/71/fe/73/scoops-of-ice-cream.jpg" alt="scoops of ice cream" data-src="media/image/scoops_of_ice_cream.jpg" />

The description of this image with “scoops of ice cream”, albeit appropriate, is not very descriptive and provides the search engines with too little content.

This is a good way:

<img id="tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" class="tinymce-editor-image tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" src="https://www.shopware.com/media/image/71/fe/73/scoops-of-ice-cream.jpg" alt="a hand is holding dripping scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone in front of a yellow wall" data-src="media/image/scoops_of_ice_cream.jpg" />

This description is more suitable as it is much more detailed and descriptive. Even just reading these attributes, readers can visualise the image in their minds.

Here’s what you should avoid:

<img id="tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" class="tinymce-editor-image tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" src="https://www.shopware.com/media/image/71/fe/73/scoops-of-ice-cream.jpg" alt="ice cream scoop delicious summer yellow wall ice cream" data-src="media/image/scoops_of_ice_cream.jpg" />

In place of the alt text description you should avoid just working with keywords.

<img id="tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30" class="tinymce-editor-image tinymce-editor-image-736ff3f9-91ae-4295-988e-6e8042352b30"src="https://www.shopware.com/media/image/71/fe/73/scoops-of-ice-cream.jpg" alt="" data-src="media/image/scoops_of_ice_cream.jpg" />

And just leaving out the alt text description is not recommended for the visibility of the images in your shop.

As well as the alt text description, the file name or image path is also significant. Choose generic terms which describe the product, e.g. “hedgetrimmer-battery-mx13.png” instead of “DSCN1818.jpg”. Learn more about the subject in this german blog post.

#4 The right imagery is the key to success

It is not easy to find the right imagery, but it is extremely important for a compelling online presence. The images in your shop should fit with your brand, products and values so that you convey a holistic and credible image. The keyword here is: corporate design or corporate identity.

For the image research, establish a few attributes that match your brand and target group and which you want to be reflected in your images. Here is a wide variety of suggestions: urban, casual, happy, colourful, monochrome, classy, self-confident, ...

So you see: the imagery can serve completely different trends. It is important that the imagery you choose is uniform so it gives the appearance that everything comes from the same source.

Tip: Are you using stock photos but missing that certain something? With a little image editing, you can give your selected photos an individual touch and ensure recognisability. For example, you can use certain filters or play with contrast, saturation and brightness.

#5 Position the images with care

Design and position images and photos so they are clear, tailored to your target group and appropriate to the content in the right places in your shop. Lead images should arouse interest, catch the eye and encourage the customer to engage with your products more closely. Make sure that the text/image combination is right. A snappy headline can give an image a completely new context or lend a humorous touch.

tangle_deezer_the_power_is_in_the_teeth

Here is an example of a successful text/image combination from the tangleteezer online shop.

Conclusion

An image is not just an image. There are a few things you need to consider when choosing the right images. And even when you have found the perfect image, the work doesn’t stop there. This checklist helps you think of everything – and should be used every time you want to include a new image in your shop.

Checklist image readyness for publication

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