When you are launching your online business it is important to prioritize! Sure making the site pretty is important, but to accomplish that you need great product photos. Our sites come with lots of stock photos, but those are not your special products and are not what your customers are looking for. They need to get to know you and your products through the great photos that only you have. And no worries, if you do not have enough photos of your top selling products then take a moment and snap some photos.
#2: Pictures, pictures, pictures
I know my natural inclination is to want to make the perfect background and have the website color coordinated and looking like an HGTV special (I just love those home shows, everything is so pretty). However, That is not actually the best place to focus. Just like IRL, you need people to see your products so they know how great they are and can decide to buy!
Before we started creating and managing websites, Todd and I were doing exactly what you are doing. We were creating fun products and selling them, from t-shirts to coffee mugs to custom embroidered pajamas, we sold it. Ahh, good times!
Of course we were selling online so the only way for us to let our customers and future customers know about our products was to take lots of photos and write up engaging product descriptions (more on that later). The encouraging thing is that when you have a great product, it will sell, you just have to get the visuals out there!
I know the goal of your website is to look professional, stylish, colorful and exactly what will appeal to your niche clientele. Just keep in mind your photos are the first step in making that happen. An added benefit of starting with your product photos is you can start selling right away and making the profits you need to make your business financially successful. Look at Amazon for example, their website is simple and functional. Their design emphasizes the products they are selling. This is what we want to do as well, remember the goal is sales!
Pro Tip #2 – Product Photos
So you know product photos are important, but what exactly makes a GREAT product photo?
Generally, a plain white background is considered best practice for product shots. This approach really lets your product take the spotlight plus it removes any distractions. However, this is not always the case. Some products may be better displayed on a model, like clothing. Just be sure to avoid distractions and make sure any scenery or elements add to the focus rather than taking away from it.
There are many great tutorials online on how to take perfect product photos. Use your own judgement, look at your photo, if you saw that photo on a website would you want to buy the product? If so, Great! If not, think about why not…and fix it!
If you are not able to create nice photos, you can always buy professional photos and add your art to them, Barbara is amazing and provides many of our photos at CoolMo Design. Her shop on Etsy can be found here.
So now that you’ve got your photos looking perfect, what do you do with them now?
Unfortunately, when you took that photo your camera or phone camera captured it in a really high resolution which is wonderful for regular photos but when placing photos on a website those high resolution photos can drain the life right out of your website.
Think about it this way, if I display 20 products on my homepage and each of those products have 1 photo having a size of 3MB, just to load that one page my customer will need to download 60MB of data and that does not even take into account all the additional overhead of the website itself.
So what do we do? We optimize!
Before adding ANY photo to your website you should optimize it for use online. We recommend a FREE tool called R.I.O.T. (Radical Image Optimization Tool). This tool allows you to quickly and easily reduce the size of your images without losing the quality of the image. This just means your customers will not be able to tell the difference but your site will look several hundred times faster because you did this.
Once you download, install and open R.I.O.T., you will get a screen that looks like this:
The box on the left shows your original picture and the box on the right shows the same picture optimized. Let’s walk through the procedure.
First, we need to open our original product photo we took with our camera. To do so, just click the Open folder and browse to your photo on your computer. Likely, when you open the picture you will receive the following message advising the file is too big, click YES to continue.
Now you need to tell RIOT how much to resize the image. For product photos 800×800 is generally fine. Notice my photo straight from my phone is 1536×2048.
I’m going to reduce the size by 50%.
Notice how quickly we took our photo and with no noticeable changes have reduced it’s size by two-thirds! That may not sound like much but doing that over 20, 50, 100 images will make the difference in a customer coming to your site and leaving because it is too slow and one who buys and returns later for more.
The item you’ll use most is the Quality slider, move it up or down until you get the smallest file size yet without losing any of the quality of the image.
Play around with the settings and see how your images look, when you are happy with the size and the look save the new file and use that new file on your website.
Just for fun, here is a page I made with 8 full size images (these are just photos I found online) to see the difference open the full size page and then open the optimized page to see the speed difference yourself.