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08/07/2013 11:40 am ET

Author Website Help: How To Make The Most Of Images

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From Writer's Relief staff:

If you’ve got an author website, you know how important it is to have great text for it—but it’s not going to hold anyone’s attention if you’ve just got a wall of words on your home page! It’s important to have eye-catching images to go along with your text. Here are the five elements that make for great pictures on your site:

Most importantly, the pictures you include must have a good reason for being there. Make sure they’re relevant to the topic being discussed in your text and that they add something to the overall meaning of it. That means no dancing babies (unless your text is about annoying, overdone animations from the mid-to-late ’90s). The bottom line is: Don’t choose an image just because it’s fun, amusing, or shocking; make sure it works for your visual branding.

Next, don’t move away from the overall theme of your site. If you’re talking about your latest crime novel over a gray background and police-tape borders, you’re going to want to think twice about including your four-year-old daughter’s crayon drawing of the family dog—no matter how perfectly you think she’s captured his essence. Make sure your pictures match the mood and tone of your site. Otherwise, you risk confusing—or creeping out—your visitors.

There are more ways than ever to browse the Web now, so it’s important that your images are accessible. If your viewers are checking out your webpage through their tablet or smartphone, or through accessibility software, they may not be able to view your images. Use your site builder’s alternate text function to type up a description of each image you’re using. That way, if your readers can’t view the pictures, they can at least imagine them.

Color is a good attention-grabber when it comes to images, but don’t overdo it. As mentioned before, make sure you stick to the theme of your site. If you have too many different colors competing for your viewers’ attention, they’ll only create eyestrain. Done right, though—for instance, a burst of matching color on an otherwise subtly-colored page—it can add a lot to your page. A black-and-white picture can also provide visual impact if the rest of your page is colorful.

Finally, be sure to inject some personality into the images you’re using. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so, especially if you’re using a self-portrait, use it to tell your viewers something about you! Take a picture with your collection of Precious Moments figurines, your wall of vinyl records, pets, or anything else you’re passionate about. Let people know that you’re more than just a great writer with an awesome website.

It’s no secret that the human mind reacts positively to aesthetically pleasing images. With the right pictures in the right places, your viewers will connect these positive feelings with your website and undoubtedly come back for more!

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