Images create visual interest on your website and social media posts, and they can help you tell a great story. Images also are essential these days if you want your content to be noticed in an increasingly crowded web space.

There are plenty of professional web designers and social media experts that will happily take your money and help you with this. But, if you run a small neurology practice and have more of a do-it-yourself budget, there’s a lot you can do to optimize your own images and get that professional look.

With a little knowledge and some tricks of the trade you can deliver a high-quality and effective visual presence online.

Know About Image Use Liability

Running a medical practice comes with a lot of rules around liability and using images for marketing is no exception. Obviously, violating HIPAA laws using unauthorized pictures of patients will get you in trouble.

What you may not know, though, is that violating copyright laws can also lead to huge fines – even up to six figures. One of our recent posts explores this in more detail and offers advice on free and paid safe image sources.

Choose the Right Photos

Be aware that many of the free and inexpensive sources of images are heavily used across the internet and on social media. Once you start using them you will notice the same images popping up a lot.

Sometimes, the best solution to this is to go several layers deep in the search instead of just grabbing the first one that comes up.

The subject of your image should make sense and be consistent with your branding, but it doesn’t have to be literal. You want your image to add to your story. Think about the emotion that a photo evokes or the shared cultural experience that pictures can represent.

Optimize Your Images

The quality of images that you can find on professional sites (paid and free) are often top notch; they are clear, vibrant, and cropped well. If you are using your own images, however, they may need to be enhanced a bit.

This can be done easily on most computers or using online photo editors (picmonkey is a good one) before you upload them. Many websites offer some ability to edit photos after they are uploaded, but that can be tricky and there are usually few options beyond cropping and sizing.

Understand How Placement & Size Matter

Research has shown that people tend to read webpages using an F pattern, with less viewing the further down the post you go. That is, their eyes start at the top left and move over to the right before scanning down the screen. Placing an eye-catching image at the top of your post can be the best way to draw a reader in.

Worse than a poorly placed photo, though, is a photo that won’t load right away. Consider the resolution and size of your images. The higher the resolution and the larger the file, the longer your image will take to load — and the quicker your reader will click away.

Some tips:

  • Use images that are only as big as they need to be for speed loading. Most people will be viewing your content on a smartphone, tablet or at most a desktop computer. Typically, an image under 800 pixels should do the trick.
  • Make sure images conform to your webpage dimensions so that they don’t get cropped awkwardly. This can depend on the template you use for your website and can take some trial and error with uploading different dimensions and sizes.
  • Check the optimal image dimensions and sizes for the social media platforms you use so images load quickly and show up in full. A quick Google search will tell you what you need.

Does all this sound like more work than you have time for? Remember, DIY can also include hiring a savvy Gen Zer or having one of your office staff take on this job. Either will cost you far less than hiring a professional, and still bring a lot to your business.