When a user visits your website, you have just a fraction of a second to capture their attention and make them want to stay. That’s where hero images come in. A hero image is a large, visually striking image that is prominently placed at the top of a webpage. It serves as a powerful tool to engage users, convey your brand’s message, and create a memorable user experience.
What is a Hero Image?
A hero image is not just any ordinary image. It is carefully selected to represent your brand’s identity and communicate the overall theme of your web page. It goes beyond being visually appealing; it has a purpose. A good hero image captures the essence of your brand, evokes emotions, and entices users to explore further.
According to Angie Schottmuller, a hero image is a credible photo or video of a solution that encompasses relevance, context, value, and emotion to support, educate, or persuade a customer. It goes beyond being simply decorative; it plays a crucial role in creating a positive user experience and driving conversions.
Why Are Hero Images Important?
Hero images are essential for several reasons. First and foremost, they grab the user’s attention and make a strong first impression. Research shows that users form an opinion about a website within a mere 50 milliseconds. A well-designed hero image can captivate users and leave a lasting impression, increasing the chances of them staying on your site and exploring further.
Hero images also contribute to the overall visual appeal and aesthetics of your website. They help create a cohesive and visually engaging design that reflects your brand’s identity and values. By carefully selecting and positioning your hero image, you can effectively communicate your brand’s message, showcase your products or services, and create a sense of trust and credibility.
Additionally, hero images can improve the user experience by providing clarity and context. They convey information quickly and concisely, allowing users to understand the purpose and value of your website at a glance. This can lead to higher engagement, increased time spent on your site, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.
Best Practices for Creating Hero Images
Creating an effective hero image requires careful consideration and attention to detail. Here are seven best practices to keep in mind when designing your hero image:
1. Keyword relevance
Ensure that your hero image complements the targeted keywords of your website. It should align with the content and purpose of your site, making it easier for users to understand what your website is about.
2. Purpose clarity
The hero image should help clarify the message of your site. It should convey the core value proposition of your brand and give users a clear idea of what they can expect when exploring your website.
3. Design support
The hero image should support and enhance the overall design of your webpage. It should seamlessly integrate with other design elements and guide users toward the desired call to action (CTA).
Your hero image should represent your brand in a credible and authentic way. It should accurately reflect your brand’s identity, values, and offerings, helping to build trust with your audience.
5. Added value
The hero image should add value to the user experience. It should demonstrate the benefits of your products or services and provide a compelling reason for users to engage further with your website.
6. Desired emotion
Consider the emotions you want to evoke in your audience and choose a hero image that aligns with those emotions. Whether it’s excitement, trust, or inspiration, the image should trigger the desired emotional response and motivate users to take action.
7. Customer “hero”
The hero image should depict the customer as the “hero” once equipped with your solution. It should showcase the positive outcomes and benefits that users can expect when engaging with your brand.
By following these best practices, you can create a hero image that not only grabs attention but also effectively communicates your brand’s message and drives user engagement and conversion.
The Four Types of Hero Images
When analyzing websites, you often come across four common types of hero images. Each type serves a different purpose and can be effective in its own way. Let’s explore these four types and provide examples of each:
1. Product Images
Product images are the most intuitive and straightforward type of hero image. They showcase your products in action, allowing users to see what they can expect when using your offerings. These images often feature high-quality photographs that highlight the key features and benefits of the product.
For example, BarkBox, a subscription box for dog owners, uses a hero image that displays two full boxes filled with toys and treats. This image immediately communicates what customers can expect from the subscription.
2. Contextual Images
Contextual images provide a visual representation of the environment in which your product or service can be used. They help users envision themselves using your offerings and experiencing the benefits firsthand. These images create a sense of connection and relevance, making your brand more relatable to your target audience.
Decathlon, a sports equipment retailer, uses a contextual hero image that shows a selection of autumn and winter hiking gear along with a picturesque mountain landscape. This image helps users imagine themselves enjoying outdoor adventures with Decathlon’s products.
3. Famous Founders
Some brands choose to feature images of their founders or key figures as their hero images. This approach adds a personal touch to the brand and can help build trust and credibility with the audience. By showcasing the people behind the brand, these hero images humanize the business and create a sense of connection.
While featuring famous founders may not be applicable to all brands, it can be an effective strategy for startups or businesses built around a strong personal brand. One example is Dollar Shave Club, which uses a hero image of its founder, Michael Dubin, in a bubble bath with a beer in hand. This image reflects the brand’s laid-back and humorous personality while reinforcing the idea of self-care and relaxation.
4. Non-Contextual Images
Non-contextual images are more abstract and don’t directly represent the product or service. Instead, they aim to evoke emotions, spark curiosity, or create a sense of intrigue. These images can be highly creative and visually striking, capturing the audience’s attention and leaving a lasting impression.
Brain.fm, a music streaming service that helps users focus and relax, uses an animated hero image that portrays a man at a desktop computer easily checking off his to-do list. This image conveys the benefits of using Brain.fm’s service and creates a sense of productivity and accomplishment.
Hero images are a powerful tool in web design that can significantly impact user engagement, conversions, and overall user experience. By carefully selecting and designing hero images that align with your brand’s identity and message, you can create a visually appealing and immersive website that captures users’ attention and drives them to explore further.
Remember to consider the best practices for creating hero images, such as keyword relevance, purpose clarity, design support, authenticity, added value, desired emotion, and customer “hero.” By following these guidelines and choosing the right type of hero image for your brand, you can make a lasting impression on your audience and achieve your conversion goals.
With the examples provided, you now have a better understanding of how different types of hero images can be effective in conveying your brand’s message and engaging your target audience. So, go ahead and elevate your website with compelling hero images that leave a lasting impact!