Good product images are fundamental to the success of any e-commerce website. I often advise clients on how they can improve their e-commerce websites, and am struck by how little attention is given to images. Professional looking photos help your website to gain trust and convince visitors that buying your product will be worth it. Shot correctly, they can make your sales go through the roof.
The benefits of high quality product images
Here are some important reasons why you should be using professional product photography:
- Professional images help your website gain client trust, which is key if you are to make a sale
- Quality images show your product in it's best light, giving you an advantage over competitor sites
- Clean, well-taken or imaginative images get many more social shares and are far more likely to go viral.
- Great images can be re-used in html email and marketing campaigns.
- Improve your branding.
Product Photography Tips
Below are some excellent product photography tips to win over your shoppers hearts and make your e-commerce stand out.
1. Use professional high definition product photos
There is no substitute for professional well shot product photography. By this I mean clean, sharp, high quality images.
The two photos in the example both show the same bottle of Chanel No. 5, but which website would you trust, and which website would you buy from? The plain background photo looks professional and is far more likely to gain client trust.
Plain white or empty background are the most versatile photos as they go well with different websites and graphics and are more shareable on social networks.
E-commerce webpages can look very busy, so uniformly proportioned photos produce a more consistent, tidier look are cut to the same size with a plain background to give a more organized, professional look).
- Tip: You can produce photos like these at home. Minimum requirements are a light tent with white led lights, and/or good Photoshop skills. The simplest effect to achieve is a plain background which will allow you to cut around the object later in Photoshop.
2. Add an image enlarger to view the details
Zoom and pan or image enlargement allows buyers to inspect a product for details such as material, finishing and textures. This is as close they get to picking up and handling the item in a real-world shop.
Most modern e-commerce packages such as Magento, Prestashop, Open Cart and Hikashop either have an inbuilt zoom feature or have an extension/plugin that you or your web designer can add to offer the functionality (see an example of product zoom).
3. Show the product from all angles
A 360° 3-dimensional viewing experience allows the buyer to examine the product they are going to purchase from all angles - a great way to show off your best products, exude professionality and build up client trust - all essential if you are to make that sale. Here are several ways of displaying your product at different angles.
The simplest method is to add 3 or 4 images showing the same product at different angles.
- Quick to set up - load your pictures and you are done
- Multi--image display comes as a standard feature on most e-commerce packages
- Tip: For a professional looking website, images should be exactly the same size and proportions so position your camera on a tripod.
- As close as you can get to actually picking up and examining a product
- Available as website plugins/extensions (here is a good list of rotator plugins). The best offer 360 spin, zoom and even product tilt.
- Tip: use a tripod, light studio and a 360 spinning system such as Arqspin for high quality results.
Animated gif offer a better user experience
Rather than a series of images showing different views and features, animated GIFs bring your page to life.
- Animated gif's are still relatively under-used which means that they offer a great opportunity to make your website stand out from the rest.
- Catch the eye, bringing your page to life
- Load quicker than a slideshow
- Relatively easy to set up
- Tip: Animated gif's are excellent for simple images without too much shading and colors, and very handy if you want to add a text message. They do not work well with complex images containing lots of color. Here is a tutorial on how to create an animated gif. Photoshop skills will come in handy.
Carousels and slideshows show rotating images, but have a number of drawbacks - they are complicated to and time-consuming to implement, slow page loading, can cause problems with other website plugins.
4. Appeal to a wider audience: show-off your products in all available colors
We don't all have the same tastes, so why limit your audience by showing only one color? A good display of the products in different colors will satisfy more visitors and help them in their choice.
The animated gif showing the bag available in 3 colors is far more likely to attract a wider audience than simply showing the bag in one color.
5. Liven up your product images to leverage social shares
Show your product being used, in action or in ambience. A stunning picture of your product being used, in action or in it's environment can increase sales.
- Sets you apart from competitors selling the same product
- Shows your product in the best light, convincing a client on the buy
- Is more likely to get shared on social networks than a plain image.
- Ok so you may not be able to afford Charlize Theron, but try simply showing the product next to it's container; creating a product composition; or introduce a simple prop that compliments the product in some way. You product will stand out from competitors and is more share-worthy on social networks and websites.
6. Show your product being used
My final tip is to show your product in use or in it's natural environment.
- Photos of your product in use are more memorable and can help you stand out from competitor websites.
- Help people relate to what your products.
- Imaginative photos will generally get more shares on social networks, which is great news for your SEO and marketing.
- If you use texts and graphics in your photos, make sure they fit in with your website and branding.