A thoughtfully chosen hero image can grab attention, reduce your recruitment website’s bounce rate, boost your branding, increase applications and build trust. It can, in short, save your website from being yet another ‘click and click away’ in a candidate’s or potential client’s journey to finding their ideal job or recruiter. Not bad for a single image. But what exactly is a hero image, why are they so crucial to your website and what should you include? We dig into all of this, plus offer some hints and tips to help you choose your hero image wisely.
Impress me now
Humans are visual creatures and it doesn’t take long for us to decide whether we like something or not – 0.05 of a second at most on average, according to studies. That is an incredibly short amount of time to make a good impression. So what can we do to ensure visitors stay on the page? A fascinating study analysing first impressions of websites by looking at eye-tracking showed that 94% of all first impressions are design-related, with the site’s main image, often called the hero image, being amongst the most viewed. Our eyes are drawn to imagery before anything else. A visually interesting hero image that manages to convey your branding, values and business in one shot is nothing short of a hero.
What is a hero image?
If you’ve got to this point and are thinking, “good advice but what exactly is a hero image?!” you won’t be alone. A hero image is a type of website banner, usually large and covering the full width of the page. Often it sits at the top of the page, above the fold, but it can cover the entire page. Its size gives it prominence on the page and is therefore usually the first element that a visitor will see. Because of this it serves as a snapshot of what your business offers, who you are and what your values are, as well as what visitors can expect from the rest of the website.
Why are hero images so important?
As the first thing visitors see when they click onto your website, hero images are vitally important. They set the tone for your website and have the power to influence opinion, establish trust, boost branding, engage visitors, and even directly make conversions. The hero should be aesthetically pleasing but should also be so much more, a crucial tool to help you to push your conversion goals.
What are my options when it comes to hero images?
Your choice of image will depend on the industry you recruit in, the general tone and style of your website, and your branding. You may choose office shots, with or without people. If you recruit within a particular area you may want location-specific shots. If you recruit internationally, global images could work. You may choose to hone in on the industry with related images. You’ll also need to consider whether you want static images or something more dynamic, in the form of a video. Do you want photographic images, illustrations, or perhaps a combination of the two? Be inspired by your brand, your values, the work that you do, the people that you place and the industry you recruit in to find images that have traction.
- Size matters. Too large and you may encounter slow page load speeds (which can have negative affects on your bounce rate), too small and it will look stretched, pixellated or out of focus. It needs to look good on any sized screen but be optimised for website performance. The image needs to have the right dimensions for the space and have the correct pixel density for the size. Remember, it needs to respond well and look good on mobile devices as well as PCs. In fact, Google now operates mobile-first indexing, meaning that it uses the content on the mobile version of websites when indexing and ranking so your search engine ranking could be affected if your hero image is affected on smaller screens.
- Avoid text/image competition. When placing text over the image, ensure they’re not competing for attention. Text needs to be easily read but equally the main parts of the image mustn’t be completely covered.
- Choose colours wisely. When choosing your hero image, colour is an important consideration. Colour psychology can have a huge impact and be used to your advantage but the colours you use must also fit with your branding to really resonate. Consider using contrasting colours on your buttons help your CTAs to stand out. If you are equally targeting candidates and clients, using contrasting colours to make their user journeys clear right from the start is a great idea.
- Does it add value? This is the question you should always ask when choosing a hero image. If it complements the design of your website, evokes the right emotion, creates a positive feeling and generates actions that align with your navigational plan, that’s great value-add. Dull stock photos that contribute nothing to the furthering of your brand and your messaging are unlikely to add any significant value, wasting the prime real estate occupied by your hero image.
Hero images can be a visual treat, engaging the user and drawing them into your website, coaxing them to explore further. Chosen wisely, they can boost your brand and your messaging, plus strengthen trust and evoke the right emotions. Done well, they really can be website heroes.