how to create hero images for ecommerce

by | May 18, 2021

the impact of a great hero image can not be overstated. it’s that big banner or background image on the landing page of a brand’s website. the sale graphic that flashes. the playful photo with text announcing the spring launch.  we’re going to tell you how to make the most of your hero image; photographing. designing. and marketing.

why you should care about your hero images

tell your brand story

the hero image on your landing page should always reflect your brand story first and foremost.  change your hero image as often as you’d like: but always be true to the brand.  we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — a mood board is a really awesome way to keep your ecomm content on-brand while always staying fresh.  whatever method you use: the hero image that customers see first when they come to your site holds a huge responsibility to communicate your brand values, colors, products, and lifestyle to potential buyers.

highlight your star sellers

in addition to just conveying a brand vibe — your hero image can work harder for you. you can showcase your bestsellers and have the image link directly to them.  a call-to-action included in your hero image (for example: a gorgeous photo of your best selling nail polish color with a “shop now” button) can be a really powerful tool to optimize sales.

pack a punch in one photo

your hero image could be one focused product. or it could show off an entire collection of products.  this depends on your brand’s product offerings and target customers. the most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to overwhelm your customer.  when they first arrive to your website, you want them to be intrigued and drawn in by your hero image. not off-put.

reflect new drops

how often you release new products is up to you. but nearly every company has some kind of content refresh. even if you have an evergreen product (meaning you essentially offer the same simple product all the time): you still may be interested in a special edition. exclusive colorway. or maybe just a seasonal sale. whatever it may be: don’t miss the opportunity to promote that refreshed content via your hero image.  many customers may come to your website to repurchase something they loved. but your hero image could introduce them to a fresh new offering. if you play your cards right: this will lead to a higher cart value and renewed excitement from new and repeat customers.

types of e-commerce hero images

lifestyle

a lifestyle image is one of the most effective ways to show your customer how your product fits into their lives. in other words — why do they NEED it?  it’s a really popular option for your hero image because lifestyle photographs tend to be sweeping. visually interested. and mood-inducing. these are the images that don’t just show you the product: they make you feel it. many Shopify layouts – for example – have a “lookbook” option to utilize a few of your best lifestyle photos in a cohesive layout. 

we’ve got you covered with all the Shopify tips you need on the soona blog.

Away is one company whose Instagram is killing the lifestyle photography game.  they sell suitcases. but if you scroll through their feed: you won’t see their product super often. instead what they’re showing their customers is the potential lifestyle they can have with a sleek and convenient suitcase.  their feed is full of awe-inspiring travel photos that make you want to pack your suitcase. genius!

check out soona.co for lifestyle inspo.

contextual

similar to lifestyle: this type of photo is going to demonstrate your product in-use or in it’s element.  let’s say you have a lip gloss brand. where a lifestyle photo might be a group of friends hanging out by a pool with glossy lips — your contextual photo might be someone applying that lipgloss in a mirror.  this style has more emphasis on the use of the product and less on the aesthetic. have fun creating a balance between both for really effective hero images!

Bala Bangles is a brand with a fresh and clever take on contextual photos. these weighted bracelets are — in essence — workout gear. but you won’t see the typical sweaty people in spandex on their feed. instead: they’ve curated an entire fashion movement to inspire their customers to wear these weighted bangles at any time. wearing green fuzzy heels and a sun dress? coordinate with the pink matte Bala bangles to pull. a. look.

unrelated

the unrelated hero image should be really well thought out.  this style may not be as effective for your marketing as it wouldn’t be a photo of your product(s). your hero image is a really powerful tool in converting, so don’t be tempted to use an ineffective image just because it’s visually interesting.  however — some companies sell services that are really hard to visualize.  if this is the case (think: a mental health service or a consulting service) you may need to take the “unrelated” route.  you’ll want to still choose a photo that conveys your brand’s mission.  picture this: a photo of two people happily exploring a historic city may be the hero image for your travel agency. 

for example: BetterHelp is an online virtual therapy company. they don’t offer a physical product. you’ll notice that their hero images are things like: a pair or holding hands. a person leaning against a window with a hopeful look on their face. a smiling woman with her phone in her hand.  it’s easy to see how each of these things might suggest the effectiveness of virtual therapy — without actually displaying a product. 

even if this is your approach: having high-quality photos is still SO important. there are options out there for stock photos. but an impactful hero image is still going to tell a story unique to your brand. “unrelated” doesn’t have to mean uninteresting. your brand will still have an identity: a color scheme. font. vibe. mission.  get creative to make sure your hero image tells your brand story!

video

videos can be too busy and distracting. but they can also be a tool to build trust and rapport with customers.  a company that offers a service that may need some further explanation might benefit from having a “founder introduction” video as their hero image.  or maybe a video is needed to show off the construction of a first-of-its-kind product.  

for example: Oru Kayaks are a revolutionary foldable ultralight kayak.  it’s kind of hard to visualize what that means: so their hero image is a lifestyle video of someone using the kayak accompanied by a stop-motion GIF of the kayak being set up.  

if you go this route: it may be important to your customer that they can choose whether they play the video or not. going to a website and immediately having sound play from your speakers unexpectedly could negatively impact your conversion. another option is to go with a GIF or series of GIFs that serve to introduce your product without being overwhelming. 

at soona.co we have an inspiring collection of GIFs so you can get some content ideas.

graphic

you’ve got your images ready to go. but maybe you want to add a little graphic ✨spice✨. whether you just want more color. movement. or text. there’s a few keys to success to ensure your graphics get the job done.  first of all: consider your budget and level of expertise when choosing a photo-editing app. many apps allow you to upload high-quality images and play around with adding pre-made elements while others are more for designing your own elements. next: the potential of graphic design is nearly endless. make sure — as you play around with graphics — that you’re only adding to your brand message and not distracting from it. remember when we talked about mood boards? yeah. you’re gonna want to refer back to that to make sure your brand messaging is cohesive.

Recess is a sparkling water brand whose marketing images are heavily dependent on modern psychedelic graphics in dreamy colors. they have a lot of fun with their photos (like a Recess can riding a saddle on a corgi’s back). but they still stick with a color theme. font cohesion. and generally surrealist content. 

when it comes to adding graphics to your hero image. consider how those graphics can work harder to convert customers for you:

a call-to-action — “shop now” or “add to cart” links in eye-catching fonts directly under an awesome hero image can contribute to higher cart values.

an invitation — it can feel exclusive and build rapport with customer if they go to your website. see an enticing hero image. and then have the option to click “learn more” or “who we are”. 

a great tag line — as a small business: you already know the importance of brilliant website copy. if you’re going to include graphic text in your hero image. make it count.

no words. just vibes. — there are many cases where the graphics you add won’t say anything. but they’ll still achieve a vibe. a mood. maybe your signature graphic is squiggly lines in bold colors or a glam shimmery effect to highlight your product.

got ideas for a brilliant hero image?

if you’re ready to create your own hero image that inspires. entertains. and—most importantly— converts customers: connect with soona for high-quality images starting at $39.  we’re a team of studio pros who make content dreams a reality.

if you’re looking to ramp up your content game but still feel unsure where to start – check out these resources:

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