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March is Church Website Design Month at OurChurch.Com and we are giving you all the needed steps in having a great church website design. In fact, at the end of the month we are going to release The Ultimate Guide to Church Website Design.
Today, I am going to discuss one of the most critical aspects of a website that is so often overlooked…
The decision of what photos to use for a church website usually goes something like this…
“Let’s just use some stock photos we see online” or “I think the Sara (the youth pastor) has some pics from the church picnic and building dedication that she posted to Instagram or Facebook. We can use some of those.”
Most of the time, there isn’t much thought given to what images will be used on the church website.
However, even though text that talks about your mission, beliefs, and programs are a very important part of the website, the photos will be what makes the first impression when someone comes to your website.
Since the images that you use on your website are so important, I want to provide 8 crucial tips to ensure you have great photos on your website:
- Never go online and copy an image that you find. This includes going to Google and searching for an image and copying the image from the results. Those images are most likely copyrighted and using them is stealing. If you use them, you could find yourself on the wrong side of a lawsuit 🙁
- Use real photo’s (that you take) whenever possible. It is very tempting to resort to using stock photos: Many are free, they are good quality, and they have great looking people in them. However, everyone knows if a photo is a stock photo: Besides that “canned” look, people may have seen the stock photo on the website for their dentist or on a billboard for the local gym. Stock images are okay if there is text over top of the image and the only purpose the image is to provide a supporting background. However, using real photos of real people from your church is more personal and shows authenticity.
- Take your time with the images. Blurry images are impossible to correct, so take your time when taking photos. Also, unless the image is supposed to be an action photo, look closely to make sure everyone is facing the camera and their eyes are open.
- It is not a sin to use Photoshop. We’re not talking about making the pastor’s biceps look like Mr. America or the 80 yr old grandma look like a 21 college student. However, sometimes images will need to be touched up (too dark, a squirrel darted across the shot, etc), so it’s ok to touch up images if needed.
- Don’t use email to send/receive photos, especially if you are using a phone. Often when using email to send images, email services compress or shrink the file size of the image to make it less taxing on their servers to send and receive images. If you need to share images, try using Google Drive or Dropbox.
- Crop the image to fit on the website. All to often I will see different sized images in an image rotator or a portrait-shaped image used at the top of a webpage when a landscape shaped image should have been used. Once you have the correct format (landscape/portrait), crop the image to the correct dimensions. If you are not sure what dimensions should be used, contact your website provider. If you don’t have software to edit your images, you can use Pixlr Express which is free.
- Optimize your images for your website. Though you don’t want your email provider to reduce the image file of your images, you don’t want to the images to be such large file sizes that it slows down the loading of your website. Use software like Pixlr Express or the WordPress plugin, Smush to optimize the image for your website. In case you were wondering, OurChurch.Com includes Smush with all of its websites.
- Set a reminder in your calendar to take new pictures every 6 months. If you are not taking pictures for the website every week, it is important to set a reminder in your calendar to get new pictures every 6 months. Doing this will keep the images from getting old and allow you to get rid of pictures of people who are no longer at the church.
The camera sees more than the eye, so why not make use of it? – Edward Weston
Time is running out… we are offering churches a custom designed website for 60% off or a customized WP-EZ theme for 50% off. But you must order this month and there are a limited number available, so you must act quickly! Get more info here!
What do you think about these steps to having great images on your website? Are there any other suggestions that would benefit our readers? Post your comments and questions below.
And if you are in need to talk with someone about moving to a new website or starting your first website, please contact us here.