Get Personal: Humanize Your Site to Connect with Visitors

By Andy Crestodina

Marketing is about telling stories, and stories have characters. Which means that images of people are key to connecting with potential customers.

Turn on a TV and you’ll see: nearly every commercial features people. Pay attention the next time you’re driving around the city: most billboards and bus stops display engaging faces. Browse a grocery checkout aisle if you need more proof: People magazine and similar publications do nothing more than humanize the people behind the media.

There is just something about a human image that connects with us in a way nothing else can.

Your business is a group of people with personalities, and it is these personalities that help distinguish you from other companies. By using pictures of people, specifically pictures of you and your team, you make yourselves real to visitors.

Let’s look at 4 ways to make your website more personal by putting a face with your name: stock photography, pictures of you, video of you, and pictures of your business.

Stock Photography

The fastest, cheapest place to find pictures of people is a stock photography site. Here are a few options:

  • Stock.xchng: Images are free, but it may not be easy to find what you’re looking for
  • iStockphoto: Inexpensive photos (under $10) with a decent selection
  • Getty Images: Images cost more (usually under $100 if you stick with royalty free), but for no charge, they’ll help you find the right photo

Services like these make it easy for you to add that human element to your site: an open face, a warm smile, engaging eyes. Now you’re connecting.

But even the nicest, most professional photo of a pleasant-looking model wearing a headset won’t show the uniqueness of your business. It won’t connect with your visitors as effectively as snapshots of real people at your company.

We encourage you to consider:

Pictures of You

It’s easier to trust something if you can see it. Seeing is believing.

Your site needs to convey that your business is credible, and authentic photos of your people will help establish that trust.

Ideally, you should have your pictures professionally shot. A pro will have the lighting, camera, and eye to make your photos shine.

The shoot will cost something, but the photos can be used in many materials, such as printed brochures, presentations, media placements (PR), business cards, and even on social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Use your photos as a chance to show style and creativity. Here are two examples of people pictures with personality:

  • Apply a Photoshop filter
  • Use illustrations: Check out the Orbit Team Section as an example

Video of You

Give the face of your company a video production lift. Online video of your people and your business can have a dramatic impact on results.

Imagine yourself in action on your own website, discussing your professional passion and telling your story. What could be more compelling?

A half-day camera shoot of you in front of a green screen might not cost as much as you think. But even so, many business owners are uncomfortable with the idea of appearing as a talking head on their own website. That kind of hesitation can cost you money.

From a marketing perspective, a business owner is an invaluable spokesperson. Your body language, gestures, and tone of voice bring your business to life. The value of that impression far outweighs the cost or discomfort of creating your video clip.

Pictures of Your Business

To make your connection with visitors as impactful as it can be, think about focusing on places as well as people.

If you have a store, show a picture of it. Or post images of your offices. Even a tightly cropped photo of your sign will make your business seem more real, more tangible.

This is where a company with a physical location can have an advantage over a web-based business.

Orbit’s site is a good example of this. To differentiate ourselves from the thousands of virtual businesses in our industry, we added a photo gallery to our site that shows off our space.

Bottom Line

Humanize your site. Use people pictures—stock photos if you have to, but whenever possible, opt for professional pictures of your actual team.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a website for travel, recruitment or a restaurant web design. Add style with professional photography or illustration. Then, if your budget allows it, consider video and invite your visitors to look you straight in the eyes.

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