When a potential customer lands on our website they have a series of questions that need answered, if we fail to answer these questions, the customer is but one click away from our competitor. I believe we have to answer the utilitarian needs of the potential customer – such as price, location, size and service – before we dazzle them with cool design and pretty pictures.
And I have the science to back me up. There are many reports that clearly review website analytics and suggest that customers come to a website to find out facts. The customer is task focused. Customers make decisions upon what they read, not what they see.
Amazon, eBay, Wikipedia, TheRegister.co.uk and many other highly successful websites are not an example of beautiful website design. These sites are a shrine to supplying the customer with the content they need, close at hand.
These sites have put the practical needs of their customers before elaborate and often unnecessary imagery.
I do, however, believe the old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is true…in the right context. Photography has an important role in the success of a website but it has to be the right image. Stock photography often loses trust. For example, adding multi-cultural shots of a predominately white Western European workforce to our website may seem like a good idea but customers who have had a touch point with our business know this is not true. These images will not win us trust or future business.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, I will labour my point one last time – the key is to answer the utilitarian requirements of new customers. Satisfy those needs before you consider delivering the substance by way of photography.