Elevate your product imagery with these 6 best practices
What is the first thing customers are drawn to when they land on a product listing page or product detail page (PDP)? The images of the products of course! Humans are visual creatures, with decades of practice sizing up what we like, dislike, and just plain LOVE. We’re good at it, and without the ability to touch and feel products in real life, customers rely on imagery for information gathering. Merchants, you can make customers fall in love with your products and increase your conversion rates with sophisticated product imagery.
At Something Digital we can’t stress enough how product imagery can make or break a sale. SD recently created an ecommerce photography guide for one of our clients in the fashion industry, and we found that a few learnings from the guide can be applied to any ecommerce store. These 6 best practices help to elevate product imagery and the overall user experience, thereby increasing your customers likelihood to convert.
1. Maintain a consistent look and feel
Products should look like they are derived from the same place and brand. When consistency is achieved, customers are able to focus on the differences between products, rather than noticing inconsistencies within the photography styles or layout. The simplest way to incorporate consistency is to apply the same background color to all product images. Not only does this unify the product assortment, but it also creates a visual separation between the image and the page background.
Everlane uses a cool gray background color across all their product imagery.
When shooting accessories, consistency can also be achieved with the angle and composition of the products. Ensure the baseline is the same for every image of a particular category. That way, on the product listing pages customers’ eyes will be able to scan the various products more quickly.
Warby Parker keeps the baseline placement of their glasses the same for easy-to-scan product listing pages.
2. Incorporate movement when appropriate
When using models to showcase products, show them as the customer would expect to see them—as real living and breathing beings that move. To achieve this, incorporate different poses and angles, and ask your models to walk around in the products. Movement is captivating and adds to emotional feeling to the product. A breezy dress looks more enticing if the skirt is moving as the model walks.
Reformation incorporates movement in their apparel images giving customers a better sense of how the clothes will react in real life.
If using models in your photography isn’t appropriate for your product set, another way to incorporate movement is on the PDP. Video is immensely helpful in customer decision making. When selling apparel and fashion accessories, show the clothes on a real person moving around. If you’re selling more technical products like electronics, have an informational video explaining the specs. Customers will most often look to the image gallery for product videos, so ensure this optimal placement.
ASOS incorporates video into their PDP image galleries—helping customers decide if a product is right for them.
3. Show at least 4 angles
If only the front of a jacket is shown, chances are customers will be less likely to purchase it. Customers first gravitate toward the image gallery when attempting to learn more about a product, so incorporating 4 or more shots is paramount to their visual evaluation. At a minimum show the front, back, side, and a feature shot. A feature shot informs customers of texture and/or intricate details. Images are replacing in-store experiences, this feature shot can be used to call out important features that otherwise would be hidden to the customer.
Nike incorporates multiple angles for a well-rounded view of their products.
At least one image should show a product to scale. 42% of customers will look to the image gallery to assess the scale of a product. Showing a lifestyle shot within the gallery will allow customers to see the scale as well as see how the product could fit into their daily lives.
Burrow shows a person interacting with the product to give customers a better sense of scale.
Joybird incorporates lifestyle shots to help customers imagine the product in their own home.
4. Show all included products for kits
When selling kits or bundles be sure to show an image of all accessories that are included with the purchase. Keep images simple, and don’t show products that aren’t included with the product, as that can cause confusion to the customer. If a lifestyle shot is used on a PDP, be sure to state which accessories are not included to provide better clarity to the customer. There can be quite a lot of information to take in on a bundled product image, so including the individual product shots alongside allows customers zoom in on a particular part of the kit.
Hims clearly indicates what products are included in a kit with simple yet branded photography.
5. Consider a single product variation image
When customers are quickly scanning your site, it can be difficult to find variations of a product such as color or size. A way to incorporate variations more prominently is within the product photography. In addition to the multiple angle shots, a product variation image on the PDP lets customers easily compare without having to tab through the color or size swatches. It’s best to keep these shots very simple with minimal clutter in the background.
Apple clearly indicates what colors are available with simple yet branded photography.
6. Use large, retouched images
Customers zoom in on product images to see zippers, materials, ingredients, and much more before deciding to purchase. To ensure the best experience, your images should be crisp and professionally retouched. Retouching can fix any color imperfections, remove stray threads, perfect unevenness, and ensure a consistent tone that is in line with the visual brand. In cases where products are metallic, multiple shots may need to be provided to the retoucher so they can composite the images together to get the correct tone and prevent hot spots.
Allbirds features large, retouched product imagery, and allows the customer to zoom into the image.
Retouching is one of the most important steps in the photography. You want your products to look the best they can be, and retouching is the only way to achieve that perfect look. However, there is the risk of over-retouching, and some brands, such as ASOS, are taking control over the amount of retouching done on models. Remember to focus only on the retouching of the product itself, rather than the people interacting with the product. Depending on your brand, an overly retouched person may seem too unattainable or simply too unreal. Retouching is a delicate balance, and an art director can guide retouchers in the appropriate direction.
ASOS doesn’t focus on retouching their models, but rather retouches the products themselves.
After your brand has been established, it’s beneficial to create a photography guideline that documents lighting equipment placement, cropping, product angles, tone, and the process of exporting images. This provides new photographers or art directors a reference and helps to ensure consistency when using multiple vendors.
Premium product photography takes time and effort but done correctly it can differentiate your brand from the competition. Many brands today get it wrong.
Follow these six best practices and your customers will be more likely to convert.
If you need help with your photography or ecommerce website, let us know!
Written by: Lindsay Stork, Senior Interactive Designer