If you were to perform a search for the web design trends of 2013, you will come across the much-used “large photo background” style.
If manipulated correctly, this design is calming, gorgeous to look at, and sleek. It can easily transform any website into an elegant portfolio for photography, food, fashion, etc. However, how well would this design compliment a small business looking to increase their online presence?
Recently, I coughed up a wireframe that resembled a mock up of a picture book; I included lots of space for images, logos, and buttons but I completely omitted room for content. The feedback from my supervisor? Needs more content!
But I Want to Showcase the Product
It’s very difficult not to fall head over heels with an image heavy website, especially when it’s referred to as one of the “hottest” trends of the year. After completing our client’s wireframe and receiving constructive criticism, a wave of memos hit me; I work for an inbound marketing firm where my primary goal is to practically give birth to internet superstars, or that’s what I like to think I do. Even though our client’s target market may consider a large photo background site “cool” or “pretty”, they will surely find it confusing and rather unnecessary for the company’s purpose. You can certainly exhibit your client’s product through imagery, but for the sake of SEO, and good business practices, content is a must. I have carefully comprised the following list of websites that may be suffering from image overload:
Say yes to the large photo trend if…
- The company is an established name that people already “Google” i.e. Nike, Adidas, Victoria’s Secret, etc.
- The site is used as a portfolio i.e. A photographer who includes the link on their business card.
- A person is not entirely concerned about ranking, or telling readers about their business, but just wants to have a website or blog that is really, really, ridiculously good looking.
Say no if…
- The business is small and trying to generate brand awareness, while generating more leads online.
- A photographer is interested in ranking high locally as a wedding photographer. This is a perfect example of where you, as a designer, are dying to create a sleek, navigable, and potentially high ranking website for your artistic client. This is still achievable if you remember to keep a balance between images and copy. If they’re concerned about a website’s SERP performance, how will they appear if there isn’t any copy to crawl? A good amount of relevant, optimized copy can result in a nicely represented presence on search result pages.
- Overall, you or your client are interested in creating a well-rounded experience for potential customers. A site composed of large images might be fancy and intriguing, but will your customers find the answer they are looking for?
Content is Still King
Clearly, it hasn’t been mentioned throughout this article enough, if your goal is to rank, copy is beyond necessary. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked for website ranking advice where I proceeded to inspect his band’s page and realized copy was nonexistent. There was not an about us section, zero bios, and a suffocating amount of photos. The band wanted to rank and intrigue possible fans online, but how were they supposed to do this without content? After further investigation, image alt text and titles were missing, ultimately eliminating all hope for this band to rank in a search for “Houston reggae bands”.
When designing or redesigning a client’s website, look for text opportunities and how they would benefit not only in a search, but ensuring they will provide a viewer with a sufficient amount of information they would need to look at the company, business, or even band, and say YES!
Careful consideration must be made in the design process if you’re going to include content on your website. By no means are we suggesting to throw something up and have at it! We want you to be strategic about your copy to grow your business even further. As if we don’t say it enough search engines love great content because users are getting the best experience they can when you’ve taken the time to really understand what they are looking for. Pair great content with some SEO and you’ll hit a home run, and the rankings may not be instantaneous, but the business leads will begin to roll in.
Our suggestion: don’t leave out the content. It can be one of the ways your website will get lost in the abyss of SERPs.