Believe it or not, there’s more to product photography than taking a few snaps of your product and uploading them to your site! In fact, optimizing your product images is one of the easiest and most effective ways to drive traffic to your store and increase your conversion rates. Below are my eight top tips on how to optimize your product images to increase your online sales.
Tip 1: The bigger the better
When it comes to product photography, the bigger the better. Your photos should be anywhere between 1080-1600 pixels on the longest side. Many will accept smaller images, but there are a few reasons why your photos should be in the thousands.
Firstly, it’s been proven that bigger images result in higher conversions. If you have a large, high-quality images, it’s easier for your potential customers to clearly see the product, which will reduce purchase resistance.
Secondly, images this large will allow you to have an effective zoom function. The image you upload to your website is your base image, and this image is then resized to the various image frames you have across your store. When you ‘zoom in’ on a product, it actually shows you the base image. This means that for a zoom function to work, the base image needs to be larger than the size your images are displayed at on your site.
And thirdly, to save time in the long-run, you should be creating product images that can also be shared on social media. Instagram, for example, has increased their minimum image size for square photos to 1080 by 1080 pixels, and uploading anything smaller will result in quality loss.
Tip 2: Remove the background
Nothing will make your products pop like placing them on a white background. It’s clean, it’s simple, and will give your products a professional touch, resulting in higher conversion rates.
The easiest way to remove the background is to use the pen tool in Adobe Photoshop, and you’ll find it a lot easier to do if you shoot your products against a white backdrop. This will leave you with the cleanest cut around the product, as using automatic background removal tools can return dodgy and inconsistent results. It can be time consuming, particularly if you’re new to Photoshop, so you may want to consider outsourcing as to minimize your workload.
Tip 3: Align your products
Making your product images look good is one thing, but you should also take the time to ensure that they look good together by making them consistent. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a template with guidelines and apply it to all your product images.
You can use any photo editing software that has a guideline feature, but I like to use Adobe Photoshop. All you need to do is create a new file and set it to the dimensions you’re going to use for all of your product images. Go to View > New Guide… and set horizontal and vertical guidelines at 50% — this will identify the centrepoint of the canvas and help you position your product later.
Next, you’ll want to create a border with the guidelines that’ll help you resize the products within the canvas. Ideally, you want your products to take up around 90% of the canvas, but it will depend on the amount of padding you have between your product image frames and the other elements on your site. You don’t want your website to look too cluttered or awkwardly spaced out so you will need to do a bit of testing.
Tip 4: Reduce file size
For a speedy site, you’ll need images that are small in file size. Note that file size and image size are not the same thing; image size refers to the size of the photo in terms of width and height, whereas file size refers to the amount of space the image takes up in terms of bytes (KB, MB, GB etc.).
That being said, a perfect product image is large in image size and small in file size. Because larger image sizes tend to produce big files, you’re going to need to compress your files to avoid long load times. The easiest way to reduce the size of your product image without noticeably decreases the quality of the photo is to use the ‘Save for Web’ feature in Adobe Photoshop.
To do this, open your file in Photoshop and go to File > Export > Save for Web (Legacy)…. You’ll see the ‘Save for Web’ window appear, which allows you to choose your export settings. Click the drop-down menu next to ‘Preset’ and select JPEG High.
The quality level will automatically set to 60; I find that this quality setting will give you a small image and the difference in quality is only noticeable when you compare them side by side. If you look at the two photos below, the one on the left was saved as a regular JPEG with a quality level of 12 (Maximum). The one on the right was saved using the ‘Save for Web’ feature at a quality level of 60.
Tip 5: Provide multiple photos
Nothing compares to being able to physically see and touch a product when making a purchasing decision, so your product images really need to help visitors to your store visualize the product.
The best way to do this is to provide multiple photos. Start with a hero image, which is the photo that represents the listing. Your hero image should clearly showcase what the product is, and in most cases this will be a front-on shot of the product. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, for example shoes are often shot from the side. If you’re not sure what will work best for your product, have a look at what other stores selling similar products are doing.
You should then complement your hero image with photos from all different angles. Include photos from above, below, behind, the side, as well as close-ups of any unique features, textures, or patterns.
Tip 6: Throw in an in-context shot
In-context shots are essentially beautifully composed photos of your product in use. Not only do they complement your product images and make for fantastic (and shareable!) social media content, they’re a great way to convey the vibe/personality of your brand and appeal to your target audience.
One way to present your in-context shots is to add them to the listing, as Rock n Rose have done in the screenshot below. Some stores, such as Country Road, also create a ‘Lookbook’ sections on their sites, where they provide visitors to their store with a whole gallery of photos of their products in use.
Tip 7: Name your products images appropriately
To rank well in search engine results, you’ll need to give your images descriptive file names. Think about the naming patterns you would use when searching for products — if you’re selling a blue ceramic bowl, name your file something like ‘blue-ceramic-bowl.jpg’. Don’t just opt for the default name assigned to the file by your camera, and don’t rename your files to things like ‘image1’.
If you want to to go that extra mile, use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to see what people are searching for the most. You can also look into your store’s website analytics and determine common phrasing patterns that have lead people to your products.
Tip 8: Set up your alt tags
Alt tags are the text alternative to images that describe what the photo is of. Even though they’re designed for when a browser can’t properly display an image, they’ll add SEO value to your website and are are the best way to ensure you come up in search engine results. It sounds very technical but most eCommerce platforms make it really easy for you to add your alt tags. If you’re new to alt tags, I highly recommend reading Google’s support article on image publishing guidelines.
So what are you waiting for? Making any or all of these changes is sure to increase your traffic and conversions, and the sooner you start the better!
On a side note, don’t be discouraged if you make these changes and your sales aren’t soaring the next day. Optimization results take time and there’s a steep learning curve involved. Just make sure you consider what works and what doesn’t by AB testing and looking into your website’s analytics.
Written by Paula Jakubik
Paula Jakubik is the Community Manager at Pixc. You’ll often find her in the corner of a cafe in Sydney, blogging about eCommerce and helping online store owners with their product images so they can increase their online sales.