Visual content is becoming increasingly important for website owners. Research has shown that visitors engage better, stay around longer and buy more when the content they are looking at is visually interesting. The problem for many WordPress users is that it’s difficult to find highly engaging, visual content for free whilst paid for images can be very expensive. In this article, we’ll show you why you need visual content and where you can get it for free.
Why you need great visual content
According to Adobe’s 2015 State of Content Report, 66% of visitors prefer visually stimulating websites to those which are too textual and visually sterile. 38% of people would even leave a visually unattractive website. With this in mind, it is important that you consider enhancing your text with photographs, video and other graphic content.
Visual content also carries out quite a few important functions. Images can help readers understand the nature of your business or the topic of a post without you needing to say it in writing; they make reading longer pieces of content easier by providing interesting pauses, and in doing so can drive engagement and lead visitors towards your all-important calls to action. They also help readers conceptualise and emotionally connect with your content and inspire more social sharing.
To make the most of the visual imagery on your website, consider the following tips:
- Make sure that the images are related to the theme of the content.
- Always use high-resolution images that are easier to see and which enhance your professionality.
- Try to be original in your choice of image. Don’t go for the same stock image that everyone else has used. Be unique.
- If possible, try to use images that match the colour scheme of your website. This can help create a cohesive look to your site and help with branding.
- Don’t just think about photographs. Also consider using vectors, cartoons, infographics and graphs.
- Make sure you use images legally. Follow all copyright and attribution regulations. If you have guest writers who provide images to accompany their work, ask them to provide details of where they obtained the image and, if necessary, proof of their right to use it.
Where to find free images to use on your website
Free image sites
Finding free images has become more and more difficult. Many royalty free sites have disappeared and quite a few of the ones still in existence would much prefer it if you clicked on the paid images they advertise rather than the free ones so they can make a commission. However, there are still some good free image sites available and here is a selection of the best.
Pixabay is one of the leading image websites with over 700,000 images available. This includes photos, vectors, illustrations and videos. The images are free and it’s easy to find what you are looking for and download it. As the images are royalty free, there is no need to credit the copyright owner or the photographer.
Like Pixabay, Pexels also has a great choice of high-resolution images that you can freely download and use without having to give credit to the copyright holder. It is also searchable, as you can see from the image, which makes it much easier to find the perfect image for your content.
Unsplash is the place to go if you want visually stunning images that will have an impact on your audience. Whilst you won’t find the run of the mill stock images here, the photos you do find look great when you superimpose text over the top and use them as featured images for blog posts.
A fairly new site, Unspalsh still has a limited number of images available, numbering the hundreds rather than the hundreds of thousands; however, new ones are added daily. A recently added search function makes it much easier to locate the right photo and, as all the images are covered under Creative Commons, they are free to use.
picjumbo lets you download free images that can be used for both commercial and personal purposes. However, unlike the sites mentioned above, you do need to credit the photographer on your site.
The site has both a search facility and category listings to enable you to quickly find related items and it does have some really professional looking images.
Freepik is another great source of free, high-quality photos, vectors and icons. The images are all professional quality, however, like picjumbo, you will need to credit the author when you publish them on your website.
The graphics section of Freepik offers over 14,000 visually stunning graphic illustrations that enable website owners to present numerical data in a highly engaging way to their audience.
Free image design tools
If you want to create your own high-impact images and infographics, there are a growing number of websites that offer free tools to create them. Here are two of the most popular.
Canva is a highly versatile tool that can be used to create images for almost any purpose including content for your website, social media pages and even for print. It’s an easy tool to use which provides customisable templates, free photos, graphics and fonts (note: not all images are free) to create eye-catching visual content.
Venngage is another online tool which you can use to create visually engaging content of all kinds. There are free and paid memberships for Venngage, so if you choose the free membership you do have a more limited palette of images and tools at your disposal. However, you still have enough options to add some visual magic to your site.
Like Canva, Venngage is very easy to use. It uses a drag and drop interface and has lots of templates, images, graphics and fonts at your disposal.
WordPress image plugins
Pixabay Images Plugin
Instead of downloading an image from Pixabay and then uploading it to your website, save yourself time by installing the Pixabay Images plugin. This way you can search all their royalty free images from your admin panel and insert them directly into the post.
WordPress Flickr Embed Plugin
Flickr is another useful source of creative commons images that you can use on your website if you are willing to credit the author. By installing the Flickr Embed plugin, you can search the site for suitable publicly available photos to use. Rather than putting the image directly on your website, it is embedded from Flickr, which can reduce the size of your pages and help improve page loading times.
Getty Images Plugin
The Getty Images plugin is a fantastic way for owners of non-commercial websites and blogs to access Getty’s enormous range of images for free and put them on your site. Just like with Flickr, this plugin also embeds images directly from the Getty website, so you don’t actually have to install the image itself.
The benefit of this plugin is simply the enormous range of exceptional quality images that it offers – you won’t be able to get anything like this elsewhere without paying lots of money. However, do check their terms and conditions carefully – there is restricted usage.
Visually engaging content can have a huge impact on the success of your WordPress website and from reading this article you should now have a better knowledge of where you can find free to use photos and graphics, including sources such as free image sites, online image design tools and WordPress image plugins.
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