Photography is a very important part of the web. Organizations use it to show the real-life, real-people part of their missions that can’t easily be expressed through words. Website visitors use it to get a look into a cause or community that they might not know much about. Photographs can show the communities that you serve and the ways that you serve them. They can help establish the brand or personality of your nonprofit.
Given a bundle of photographs, it is often the go-to response of many site creators to just throw them together in a photo gallery. However, photos have the potential to be the most compelling content on your site. There are many ways you can use photography to connect with your users.
If you’re scrambling to think of how your photos can be used, consider the following approaches.
On Your Homepage
Across all types of websites – nonprofit, commercial, and personal – homepage photography has become a well-established pattern. This is because photographs are a great way to draw people into your site. A strong photograph can pique a visitor’s interest, appeal to their compassion or motivate them to act. If you want to achieve any of these goals right away, try putting a photograph on your homepage.
As Your Background or at the Top of a Page
If you have some very high quality and professionally shot photos on hand, you may want to consider using them in more prominent places such as in the background of or at the top of your pages. Only use a photo for a background if you want the photo to be a very prominent part of the design.
Indigy excellently demonstrates how one can use a photograph as a background image.
The Saint Louis Art Museum uses photographs to span across the top of their pages, under the page title, forming a compelling top of the page.
With Calls to Action
A great way to increase the power of the photographs on your site is to pair them with calls to action. Your most compelling photography hand in hand with your site’s most important functionality, like “donate now,” makes for a superhero team of website content.
Vittana, an organization that raises money for students in more than a dozen countries, calls website visitors to “find a student” directly on their home page. This call to action is supported by a grid of photos above it showing the faces of different students that you can raise money for.
On a Staff or Board Page
Potential donors and volunteers want to know who they are trusting with their money and/or time. Let your site visitors know who you are by showing them who you are. Users are more likely to engage with your site if they feel like they know the person on the other end.
Make sure to find or take some high quality photos. These don’t need to be staged headshots but they should be well done. Being selective with the quality of photos you use will actually help you with all pages of your site. Check out Invisible Children’s “Our Team” page.
On Your Blog
Your site’s blog is one of the easiest and most important places to put up photos. It’s been well documented that website visitors don’t read entire posts or articles. Instead they scan for meaningful content and only stop to read when something grabs their attention. What better way to slow down someone’s scroll than a compelling photo?
Try adding a photo taken at the recent event you are writing about. Or add a photo of your volunteers hard at work. If you don’t have photos of your own, there are many sources for you to gather photos that you’re allowed to use.
On Other Content Pages
I admit this is sort of a catchall section. However, I’d like to make the point that good photos can be used on almost any sort of page.
You can put photos of volunteers on your “Get Involved” page, photos of the people you serve on your “Donate” page, photos of your impact on your “About Us” page. The point is not to limit yourself to a single photo gallery. Get creative and think of the ways photos can improve the various pages of your site.
The Wayne Reed Christian Childcare Center, for example, uses a photo on their Events page.
Share Your Photos
Do you know of a nonprofit that uses photography in a compelling way on their site? Do you have any nonprofit photos of your own that you would like to share? Share the links in the comments below.