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It includes this post plus a handy Professional Images Checklist that you can use to check the quality of your images.
That’s a great question!
And one that we are asked most often, so I thought it was time to put a useful cheat sheet together on some of the basic things you should do that contribute towards producing a professional looking image.
And at the end of the post you’ll find a PDF which you can download and keep handy as it has more tips.
So here are our thoughts together with examples, in no particular order…
1. Use the right sized photo for the job
The Symptom: Stretching and distortion of the image
This is pretty fundamental to be honest.
But how many ‘stretched’ photos have you seen on Facebook or Google Plus cover images?
An image that looks stretched is definitely going to look unprofessional.
First impressions do count!
Here’s a ‘Before & After’ example of a stretched Facebook cover image.
- Use an image that is the exact size or larger than the size of the cover image.
In the example of the Facebook cover photo, the exact size is 851 pixels x 315 pixels.
Ideally resize/crop the image to this exact size (or at least reduce the size) but you
must maintain the same aspect ratio. We’ll be writing about exactly how to do this in an upcoming post so bookmark our site so you don’t miss this.
- Do not stretch an image to fit the space as this will create a stretched/distorted image.
- It’s best to use an image that is the same orientation.
The Facebook header is a landscape style image – greater width than height -and it makes it much easier to resize the photo if you start with a landscape photo.
Using a portrait style photo (greater height than width) means you’re likely to not have sufficient width in the photo to fit the space.
[content_box_yellow width=”75%”]Don’t stretch your image to fit – use the exact size or larger[/content_box_yellow]
2. Use the same font consistently
The Symptom: Stretching and squashing your text to fit the space
In the following diagram:
#1 – shows the original text
#2 – the text has been stretched
#3 – the logo has been squashed (and stretched!)
When the text has been stretched or squashed to fit the space, this cheapens the effect and it doesn’t look professional.
If you need to increase or decrease the size of the text, make sure you do this in proportion to each other.
Some programmes will do this automatically (e.g. ipiccy, Canva, PicMonkey).
Otherwise you might try holding down Control +Shift at the same time whilst resizing as this increases/decreases the size proportionately.Don’t stretch or squash your copy to fit the space!
3. Use drop shadows with care
There’s quite an art in using drop shadows and very often if they’re not used properly it can cheapen the whole effect of the image.
Here’s a simple example:
There’s also a growing trend in using ‘flat design’. This is design without the drop shadows, flashy buttons, bubbles, gradients, complicated textures and any other shiny effects, focussing instead on simplicity
Out of these two examples here which do you prefer?
The top or the bottom image?
Let us know in the comments below.
If in doubt, leave drop shadows out.
4. The use of contrast
Don’t make people have to squint to read your message.
On a dark backgrounds make your font light
On light backgrounds make your font dark
and ensure there is enough contrast between the text and the background.
[content_box_yellow width=”80%”]Make sure there is contrast between your text and the background[/content_box_yellow]
5. How do you spell amature?
[content_box_yellow width=”70%”]Avoid spelling mistakes by turning on your spell check and using it![/content_box_yellow]
Granted it won’t help in this example, so if there are words that you’re not sure about, look in the dictionary or ask a friend to double check for you.
This one is so simple to fix but if you’re anything like me, is one of the biggest turn offs.
6. Crop images to improve them
Crop out the boring, unnecessary bits focussing on the main subject.
This is much easier to show than tell , so here is an example:)
In Image #1, there is no focus in the photo and so it’s a little boring.
By simply focussing in on one person in that same photo it becomes much more interesting particularly if you want to link it to a relevant topic.
In this case it could be something linked to a worried looking female.
7. Not properly removing a white background
in an image
How many times have you been to a website where the main header is a certain color, and it has images (with white backgrounds) that have been haphazardly pasted on there?
Something like this:
There’s really no excuse these days for this to happen even if you don’t own Photoshop!
There are plenty of tools to help you remove this white background completely – Clipping Magic is a good one.
You can remove the background where the image is complex as it is here, with a more sophisticated tool like Gimp and use our tutorial showing you how.
Or you can simply create your image and save it as a PNG file.
8. Keep to 2 to 3 colours
Colour can be a powerful way to communicate your message.
But not every colour on the same image.
Resist the urge to use lots of colours in your message. Choose 2 or 3 that represent your business and use them consistently in your messages.
You can see the difference this makes in this Before and After shot here.
By the way, this goes for using fonts as well. Just keep to a couple, otherwise your message will look unprofessional.
Take a look at these Before and After images. Which do you think looks more professional?
The best way to use these techniques
So to all of you who asked us the question on how to make your images look more professional, this is what I say to you:
- Download the post as a PDF and refer to it often
- The next image you make, use at least one of these techniques in it.
- And in the next image use another one.
Just imagine the sense of achievement you’ll feel because you will have made your image more professional looking and even better you’re more likely to get more comments and shares on the image.
It is worth doing this.
For you and your readers!
Free PDF & Checklist
This PDF features the full text of this post plus a checklist you can use to confirm that your next image looks professional.
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