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5 Tips to Choose the Right Image for Your Digital Project

Posted on 9.16.2015

By Carmen Pietraru,
Dreamstime Content Strategist

We're living in a highly visual technology world, so finding the perfect image is crucial for any digital project.

Whether the image is the core of the design, it has a supportive role, or it is simply illustrative (like: calls to action, newsletter banner, etc.), any image can increase the impact of a text message, highlight the identity of a company or simply make you want to click something. There is no secret or standard recipe to finding the right image, but there are some steps and tips to check on your list before hunting for that one image. 

1. Target Audience

The audience is always important in choosing the image both in terms of style and subject. You should plan your image searches based on the info you have on the target audience. For instance, if you want an image for a business consulting company's website, then go for the classic, stereotypical business stock images. You'll want an image that inspires seriousness, trustworthiness and professionalism. This type of 'soft' image could also work for a financial website, but it would not have any effect if used for a mobile company ad which should perhaps have flashy, colorful and powerful images that inspire friendliness, fun, communication and socializing.

And speaking of target audience expectations, you can always try something 'out of the box.’ Mix classical stock themes into a fresh new approach if you think your audience needs to see something 'out of the expected.’  

It’s always a good idea to take cultural differences into account as you never know when your perfectly funny website design or digital marketing post on social media can offend someone.

2. Trends

You have to keep in mind the yearly trends. For example, if the recent trend is flat design, you should choose flat design elements for your communication media. Geometric elements always look pretty up-to-date, and you rarely go wrong with them nowadays. Overly used styles may not always seem like a good idea, but they are. Take Instagram filters, for instance. Some people may think they're so last year, but they're still very much used in digital marketing and website design because they give a familiar and personal feeling to the message. They look like what you normally see on your friends' Facebook timeline or walls. So, as long as people will identify with this, Instagram filters will not go out of fashion. Colors are important too, so check out the color trends for that year - the Pantone palette. Bright, bold colors may emphasize a message or may make a Web page look stunning.

3. Text

An image is rarely alone in the sense that the whole concept usually includes an image and text. The golden rule is for the image to draw attention/catch your eyes and the text to convince/call to action. The image should support the text and the other way around in order for the message to be perfectly rendered. Of course, you can have campaigns or pages using just images, in which case you need to find the image that speaks for itself, the thousand-words image. Or just five-word image. There are plenty of images with tremendous visual impact out there to choose from, and these usually work for social medial websites.  

4. Format and sizes

Make sure you select the correct format for your project, portrait or landscape, depending on the usage of the image. For instance, background images for apps should be portrait, newsletter headers should be landscape.

Cropping is always a solution if the perfect image is not what you need in terms of format. Vectors (image source) should be used if you've decided on an illustration because they're easier to edit without any damage to the resolution.

5. Look of the image

Using natural looking images has been the trend for some years now. For greater impact, you'll notice that more and more websites prefer images with natural, regular, common looks and people, rather than images that just look perfect. This is mainly because they want images to tell stories, even if they're technically flawed. Also, you must choose monochrome/black and white or color photos – each conveys a different mood. 

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