There is no doubt that images sell. On websites, the use of pictures not only illustrates a product, it encourages emotional engagement. A study by Nielsen found that 63% of shoppers on mobile and tablet devices ranked product images first in importance over any other content on the page. So, what are you doing about the images on your website?
This is a serious question. It doesn't matter what industry you are in, whether its eCommerce, travel, hospitality, even banking, the impact that you make on your customers through the use of images on your website is essential to your brand's long term success.
But supporting and maintaining images on a website can be challenging and it can also be easily overlooked in the general design of web pages. One issue is the cost involved in sourcing, creating, storing and paying for copyrighted images, another is how to ensure your customers are not left waiting while any large images take time to download, particularly if they are using mobiles. It's no secret that page loading is a key factor in a consumer's loyalty to an eCommerce site, but quality cannot be compromised either.
There is a balance to be struck between a great visual impact and web performance. A seamless, high quality experience, regardless of the device, may be facilitated by using a responsive web design strategy, which also helps with re-sizing images, but it doesn't solve the problem of over-downloading. Consider news publishers for example. Research from Skyword found that articles with relevant images will get 94% more total views than those without, but as news publishers know, if those images are too large, they will compromise the rapid loading of the story itself.
The origin of the picture also has to be taken into account. Companies will pay handsomely for the right image to grace their website, but at the point of transforming, converting or in any way modifying that image, there is a security risk attached. Vulnerabilities relating to image editing have increased, and without wishing to sound overly dramatic, a manipulated jpeg could easily compromise an entire website operation.
To take control of costs, storage, security and the size of images and improve customer experience with faster downloads, requires a good image management strategy and ideally support from an image management solution. These are designed to optimize images into the right size, format and quality for any device, and they offer a huge benefit in removing the human element in the process which is costly in resources time.
One of our own customers, using image management, was able to cut image preparation time by 25% which allowed them to get their product onto their website much more quickly, resulting in a faster sales turnaround. This is done by integrating image management functionality directly into a digital asset workflow. Another advantage of cloud-based solutions is that they reduce the physical infrastructure needed to store the images.
As the drive to improve customer experiences online gets ever more competitive, well managed and delivered images will become even more crucial in growing revenue and encouraging user engagement whilst controlling operational costs. It's worth remembering when considering how best to implement an image management strategy, that as Netflix found out in research with their members, artwork was not only the biggest influencer over a decision to watch content, their users spent only an average of 1.8 seconds considering each title they were presented with. That's not long to impress a customer, so those images had better be good.