Which aspect of your eCommerce website has the single handed ability to make or break a purchase decision? Imagine an e-commerce site where everything is just perfect, be it the design, the platform, the products offered, the payment gateway or even the CMS; the only area that you have overlooked comprises of product images. Will your visitors ever decide to buy the product based on a poor quality product picture? The answer is a firm no. Considering that the customer does not have the privilege of physically examining the product in an eCommerce store, product images are highly instrumental in determining the success of your eCommerce business. Here’s a list of top 10 tips for the best eCommerce product images on your website.
1. Fine tune the product before you click it: Examine every nook and cranny for the smallest possible visual defect and remove it. This is the foremost priority, since putting up a photograph of saying, a shirt with fewer visible wrinkles or an upturned collar will outright dissuade any potential customer. So do all you can- clean, polish, stretch, iron and mend from all angles.
2. Camera: Since the images must look professional, and not sloppy or amateurish, it is necessary to use a good quality digital camera with manual focus, high resolution, ISO settings, color control, shutter, aperture controls as well as white balance. Adjust the white balance based on the type of light you are working in, and take a few test shots till you get it right. Also, try to set your camera preferably on a tripod. Ensure that the background is as relatively plain and non-distracting.
3. Light: Using a Light Reflector, Light Box or Photo Tent to minimize shadows and ensure even distribution of light on the product; for products that are bigger than the size of the camera, you can use two light boxes of 60 watts each on either side of the product, while for smaller products, 30 watt bulbs will do.
4. Image Editing: The image should match the overall aesthetics of your website. Editing helps you to remove unwanted colors and other visuals. You can use a number of applications like Adobe Photoshop, PicMonkey, Fotoflexer, Pixlr etc for mashing, shadow removal, background removal, cropping.
5. Multiple images, angles and details: Provide ample options to viewers for rotation, magnification, comparison of colors, comparison of varieties, gauging of size and similar aspects of detailed viewing based on the product. Step into the shoes of your customer and try to anticipate how exactly they want to see the product. Viewing options also differ from product to product, for example, in case of a lamp, one would not only want to see it from different angles, but also want to comprehend its relative size (so scaling is important here), while in case of garments, it is necessary to display how well it fits, so it necessitates that you upload a picture of a person wearing it. In case of a mobile phone or laptop, customer would want to view all its accessories as well.
6. File Type and Load Time: There are a number of options for file types such as JPG, PNG, TIF, SUG and GIF. JPG images have the best quality as far as photographic images are concerned. PNG files are generally used for simpler images or for a combination of images and graphics; for lesser colors, you can use 8 bit PNGs and 24 bit for the rest. GIF format can be used for thumbnails and decorative images. If your images are stored in a bulky file format, it will unnecessarily add on to the load time. While saving the images, ensure that you compress them; for instance, in Adobe Photoshop, you have the option of “Save for Web and Devices” for this purpose. In most cases you must ensure that your file size does not exceed 70 KB. As per research conducted by Amazon, a 1 second load time delay on their site in turn leads to an annual loss of 1.6 billion dollars for the company! Need I say more?
7. Thumbnails: Thumbnails are very important; yet they tend to occupy a lot of space, so select the right size based on quality of display and load time. 100 to 200 pixels is the optimum range you can choose from. Cross check to ensure that there is no duplication as far as the ALT text of the thumbnail and its bigger versions are concerned. Consistency is important as far as thumbnails are concerned, be it the angles shown or the background, for easier comparison of products.
8. Image Optimization: Ever wondered why your product image does not show up in Google searches? Contrary to what most people think, optimizing your image file names and ALT tags is very important. Do not use the default names of the images as stored in your camera or laptop like “image12E.jpg”; always change the file name to name the product in simple English with proper specifications; the same goes for ALT tags. Considering that search engines don’t read images, your file name and ALT text should have the appropriate keywords, for effective optimization.
9. Image Sitemaps: Google suggests that you use its image site maps. This not only helps Google to locate the images, but it also helps in identifying the important ones. Read more http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=178636
10. Image Testing: Once your site is live, keep testing and improvising on your images based on what your customers prefer. Measured variables such as sales and loading time is-à-vis the number of images you provide for each product, the viewing options etc. and determine what is best for each product category.
Ethics + Attention to Detail = Success
A word of caution here; ensure that your photographs are truthful and accurate, and do not make attempts to post misleading photographs as it will only lead to customer dissonance later. Copying pictures again is a strict no-no. The higher your attention to detail, the higher the consistency, professional demeanor and visual appeal your photographs will have.