Rescuing Your Website Design - Hero Shots on Landing Pages

By Gregory Smyth

Hero shots are a graphical representation of your web page's reason for existence - the product or service that you are selling. The name sounds odd, but is not just a cute nom de plume with no relevance to the effect. Hero shots literally act as 'heroes' for your website design, rescuing them from a life of ineffectiveness and not being read by visitors. We look at how to use hero shots, including the best placement in relation to text, general creative guidelines, and some little-expressed rules for internet marketing success with hero shots.

Creating hero shots of an actual product is easiest in website design; however, it is still possible to have a hero shot of a service, presentation or white paper. For presentations, use a photo of the presenter; for white papers, use a scan of the cover. If it doesn't have one, create a mock-up - web analysis tools reveal that your web marketing strategy is best supported by using relevant graphics, even if they are slightly more boring. Clip art is generally avoided in hero shots, as consumers tend to see the product being sold as 'fake' or 'imaginary'.

In cases where your internet marketing efforts are directed towards selling a service, you can use a hero shot of the service in action. Landscape gardeners can use photos of lawns in the process of being mowed, and so forth. For the more intangible services, a photo of your office building or the team that serve customers is the most useful. Using these elements as hero shots helps reassure customers about the validity of your business. Charts depicting your business results, logos of your clients or of awards that your business are recommended by online marketing agencies, also.

Make sure that any lead-up to your landing page matches the website design as much as possible. Keep colors consistent, as well as use of logos and fonts. Website analytics packages reveal that landing pages with a visual disconnect from the banner ad that a visitor first clicked on tends to cause quick exits for the web page.

Hero shots should be placed in a prominent position on the page, usually to the left of any text. Placing a hero shot to the right of your text tends to detract attention from the copy. Online marketing agencies and landing page creators advise limiting yourself to a single hero shot for a page (except in results pages for e-commerce sites and the like, where multiple product photos are a necessity. Internet consulting firms and search engine marketers see best results when hero shots are well placed, and not covered by copy.

Relevance is of particular importance in creating hero shots. A logo will work better than clip art (because it is about your particular product or service), but a photo will work better than a logo. Despite sometimes looking less professional, a photo of your actual service or product is seen as more trustworthy than a royalty-free stock photo. If you are using a customer photo for a testimonial as your hero shot, those showing people looking ordinary, in real situations, tend to have better internet marketing results than glossy studio shots, which are perceived as less relevant.