How to Select the Hero Image and Other Photos for Your Website

According to INC., a first impression is made within the first seven seconds after meeting someone. With this in mind, imagine how quickly we make snap judgments about the websites we visit. This means that your hero image (the biggest image featured front and center on your homepage), site colors, fonts, and general layout trigger a subconscious first impression in every visitor’s mind before they’re even consciously aware of it. Yikes!

The good news is that you can ensure your website elicits an instantaneous, favorable impression among site visitors. This article will reveal the steps you can take to both make and maintain great first impressions by choosing, sourcing, and embedding images into your website.

A step-by-step process for choosing site images

Before selecting photos for your website, put your thinking cap on and consider a few important questions that can save you time, money, and ensure that you’re picking the best images possible:

  1. What story do I want my website photos to depict? Are you an expert in your trade? Are you the best local resource in your industry? Think of this as the overall tone that you want your website to convey. Choose photos that align with your overarching message. If you’re a master chef, select images that highlight the detail and precision that goes into preparing one of your dishes.
  2. How many photos should I feature on my site? Often times, adding photographs is the perfect cherry on top of a newly designed website. Once you finalize your content, it becomes easier to choose the photos and graphic elements you need and where they should be placed on a particular page. If you’re using a theme, its design may preemptively decide where your photos should go, and how many you can upload.
  3. What types of images do I need? The most important image on your site is the hero image. The selection of your hero image should receive the bulk of your attention in comparison to any other image on your site. Ask yourself what you need from the rest of your images. Do you need a plain photo? Do you need a photo with text overlay? Should you use a stylized statistic or graph? Think about the purpose of each image to determine what it should look like.
  4. What emotional response do I want to elicit with my photos? Do you want your site visitors to feel happy after viewing your content? Do you want them to immediately purchase your product? The answers to these questions will vary by page. For example, the images featured on your About Me page probably won’t elicit the same emotional responses as the photos on your Product page.
  5. Who is my target audience? You should have a demographic and psychographic profile of your ideal target audience. If the photos on your website feature people who look nothing like members of your target audience, they probably won’t resonate with your intended viewers. Site visitors should be able to relate to your website’s content and images.
  6. What action do I want my visitor to take? Your website images aren’t there to fill space; they’re meant to convince a potential fan to become a loyal shopper. Each image on your website is part of the overall narrative that you’re using to guide a prospect towards making a purchase. This means that each image should either inspire, inform, or convey a particular meaning in a way that encourages site visitors to dive deeper into your site and business.
  7. Where do I source images for my website? Unless you want to make a poor first impression with your website, avoid low-quality photos or the same stock images featured on every other website across your industry. Although you have to work within the constraints of your available resources, try to be creative and stretch those resources as needed. If you’re working on a budget but you have a friend or family member who is a professional photographer, ask them to take photos for your site. If you’re not great at Photoshop but you need graphics or stylized text overlaid onto your images, obtain competitive bids on work using sites like Upwork. Stock photos aren’t always bad. If you use them, pick ones that align with the personality and messaging of your website rather than choosing bland, sterile images that make your site look generic.

Once you’ve thought through and answered these seven questions, you’ll be able to find or create the perfect images to match the look, feel, and needs of your website and brand.


Aaron von Frank

Cofounder and CEO at, a USDA certified organic heirloom garden seed subscription service. Writer at, Edible Upcountry Magazine, and other media outlets.

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