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Images and Page Design

At times, flipping through the pages of a magazine and browsing through the pages of a website can seem pretty similar. Both have text punctuated by attention-grabbing images. But the differences between print and web dictate that we must approach the two differently.

For example, people read print and web pieces differently, and the wise copywriter will know that writing for web is brief and straightforward. Where sentences can be exchanged for bulleted lists, they are. Where big words can be exchanged for small, they are. Where terms people are likely to search for can be included in the text, they are: search engine optimization is big in the world of websites.

How we use images on our webpages is important. If images haven’t been properly edited for web they are likely to be too big, causing the page to load slowly – this is true even if you’ve shrunk the display size in Image Properties. Photos that are obviously outdated or that don’t relate enough to the subject of the page will instantly color the user’s perception of your content or your organization. Photos that are too big for the amount of text on the page will look foolish.

But one mistake that will make you look like an amateur every time – and excuse me for taking three paragraphs to get to the point – is using images to design your page. What I mean is, using Photoshop to make an image that looks like what you wish your page could look like. Providing text in image form so you can use the wild/fun/pretty/edgy/etc. font you like. Taking what would be perfectly acceptable as a print design, and posting it on your webpage.

This is BAD for multiple reasons:

  1. Vision-impaired users employ assistive technologies, including screen readers that will read the text on a page, but can’t read any of the text that’s in an image.
  2. Search engines won’t find any of the text in your image.
  3. Plopping one design into the existing design of the template looks goofy.
  4. Editing the text means going back to the original psd file. If someone else did the work originally, you might be out of luck.
  5. Text in an image often gets pixelated and difficult to read.
  6. Text in an image is unavailable – not only is it invisible to search engines, it can’t be resized, or copied.
  7. And if the first 6 aren’t enough incentive, it’s against our web policy.
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