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What an athletic discipline can teach you to achieve higher effectiveness for your images

Let's spend some time at track and field competition. Amongst all jump disciplines there is a particularly awkward one. Well... to outsiders at least. Why not take simply a long run and jump? Why all these bizarre movements in between?

 

Hop, step and jump

The triple jump. It's not solely about speed, strength or technique. It's the combination of speed and strength and technique that determines the end result, with great skill that leads to a perfect execution of the three phases.

 

Let's adopt the same approach for the images on your site

Rest assured. You don't need months of training. Publishing pictures online has become a piece of cake. But if you cherish a professional attitude towards your site's optimisation, you will be glad to read there is even more to gain.

 

Not one, not two, but three opportunities

Since pictures are an essential asset in your communication, it may worthwhile to complement all images with a little threesome of texts inserted in three different spots of your site's code. Each text element offers an opportunity to carry perfectly targeted information.

 

To start with: think 'complementarity'

Remember: hop, step, jump. As each phase influences the result of the jump, so should each of the texts that you attach to your images. And because each text acts on a distinct level the finesse results from their complementarity.

Let's start with the most obvious one: the caption text.

 

Every image needs a caption

Maybe you doubt this statement. But have a quick look at any newspaper, any magazine or any online news service for that matter. I am pretty sure you'll have a hard time to dig up a single photo or picture that comes without a caption. Why do you think editors stick to this rule?

 

Without a caption, an image drifts in space

Because there's no link to the content. No context. As a result your visitor starts to wonder. Even if for only a fraction of a second a visitor has to ask himself 'What is it this visual about?', you present him with an extra hurdle. And moments like these add to his frustration. However spare you make the caption, be sure to put each single image in context by giving it a caption.

 

The second text serves the interests of another category of visitors

The spiders or bots of the search engines scan the websites in order to index them. While they are indexing the pages ever more rapidly, they are still facing one major shortcoming.

Spiders are unable to scan images! They can only read a description of the image. To that matter an empty 'alt' tag line of code is automatically generated by your web design software with every image you insert.

 

Often left blank, and yet compulsory

Strangely enough, this 'alt' image tag is all too often overlooked on most gallery sites. Although its line is automatically generated, the 'alt' image tag itself still MUST have text between the quotation marks. Only by completing the text you create the extra opportunity to get your image content too.

 

Finally, the jack in the box

Or the 'title' image tag. Don't confuse this title tag with the 'title' in the header section where comes the title of your web pages. Surprisingly, if you look for the 'title' tag in the image reference string next to the 'alt' tag, you will not find it. You have to add, code and complete this tag yourself, much the same way the 'alt' image tag is configured.

 

Worth the effort?

Are you in for a surprise?

Your visitors are for sure!
And with the 'title' image text you can really surprise them, it contains the message that pops up when a visitor hovers over an image. Look at it as 'hidden' information and exploit its surprise factor. If you like to present a work in a particular way, here's your chance.

It can be a small but significant snippet of information. Or a little reminder. Or some related details about the work, the artist, your gallery.

 

Et voilà, three instances to make every image work three times as hard

I am well aware that the texts that come with your images represent but only a tiny detail in your online communication. But details often offer excellent opportunities to stand out. If you opt for this complementary approach, you create three more instances for each single image on display on your site: via the caption line, via a real trigger on the image results pages and finally as a 'roll over' surprise feature.

 

Chin up and eyes looking beyond the pit

Every athlete practising this jump discipline hears these words over and over again. It's all about skill, technique, little details and thinking ahead.

Whenever you prepare a new image for your gallery's site tackle the way you will document it immediately. Plan these three complementary entries of text in a combined effort to get your message about your artists across in full scope :

You can be sure that the impact of your images will reach further than you ever expected. Well beyond the 'pit' of your gallery's site.

 

 

Next step: read more free articles. Optimize your gallery site using these easy-to-implement tactics to reach out to new audiences and deepen the relationship with your regular visitors.

 

 

If you haven't done so already:

 

 

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Article written by Luuk Christiaens