Do You Need a Hero ... Image? Consider all of the options before deciding

About Hero Images

Full screen hero images are everywhere. They are on every other website. It’s hard to tell them apart sometimes. Typically hero images span the entire width of the screen and sometimes even the height. It’s creating a uniformity among websites that makes it tough to stand out.

I also see a lot of templates utilize hero images in their layout as it’s a simple and effective tool that can have great visual impact.

The downside of these large images is their size. If your priority is page speed and ranking in search engines, these large images are hurting you. Google uses page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm. So they can slow down your page loading time and give you a lower score when indexed by search engines.

Everyone has different needs on a project:

Executives:
Want large images so users won’t be bored.

SEO Team:
Knows search engines will penalize the page & overall page score for these images.

Designer:
Already thinks the image is way too large.

Developer:
Worried about breaking page layout and structure.

Making a decision early on about your priorities, whether that’s your users or the search engines, can make a large impact when it comes to images. Take a look at my post on redesigning with mobile in mind for tips on optimizations and best-practices.
Google uses page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm.

Did You Know?

Google uses page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm.

Using Hero Images

Keep these things in mind when you are designing your pages. Decide early on what your overall goal is and make that the central focus on all of your decision making. 

Drawing attention to your creative products like photography and art work will provide your visitors with great visuals and an insight into your work within seconds of reaching your website. 

Hero Images for Donations
PayPal drawing attention to their Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts.

Websites like PayPal and Quickbooks use hero images showing off the types of customers that use their products. They can also use this space to invite participation in events.

If you are going to use a hero image, make sure it makes the impact that you want and you optimize it for display and speed. Put a lot of thought into that home page image and make sure it’s the right decision for your audience.