Practical Ecommerce

9 Tips to Build the Best Product Images

The product detail page on an ecommerce site is where a shopper usually decides to buy. And when the shopper is about to make the decision, there are few things more important than a product image.

“Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that boost conversion rates the most,” wrote Jeremy Smith, a conversion consultant, in a post about how images contribute to conversions. And while product images may seem simple enough, there are at least nine things you can do to build the very best product image user interface.

Use a Relevant, High-quality Image

In 2015, data scientist Anjan Goswami published a SlideShare describing several tests eBay had done as part of a machine learning project intended to identify high-quality, high-converting product images.

The presentation considered image brightness, saturation, and colorfulness. It mentioned contrast; foreground and background segmentation; and even the ratio of white space and product.

Relevant and high-quality images help show shoppers your merchandise.

Relevant and high-quality images help show shoppers your merchandise.

The researchers knew image quality had a significant impact on ecommerce conversion. They sought to understand what made a high-converting product picture. While this level of image research is presumably beyond the reach of small and mid-market online retailers, eBay’s efforts make the point that image quality matters.

When it comes to implementing your own image quality standard, consider this paraphrase of what Amazon requires to sell on its marketplace.

  • The image must be a professional photograph of the product being sold.
  • The image must not contain gratuitous or confusing additional objects.
  • The image must be in focus, professionally lit, and realistic.
  • The full product must be in frame.
  • Backgrounds must be pure white — RGB 255, 255, 255.
  • The image must not contain additional text, graphics, or inset images.

Have the Proper Size

In addition to the image quality requirements listed above, Amazon also recommends that each product image be at least 1,000 pixels in width or height.

In Amazon’s case, the company may be using this relatively large image to produce several smaller versions of the product picture in order to serve the proper size photo for each situation.

The product images on Made's detail pages dominate the main section of the page.

The product images on Made’s detail pages dominate the main section of the page.

For your site, test product image size. In general, UI design experts favor relatively large product images, but an anecdotal report from ConversionXL showed that for some products, increased white space led to more sales.

Again, select a few product image sizes and run sales comparisons for each variation. Be sure to conduct tests at the same time and over a period of a few weeks or even a month.

Include Several Angles

For some products, an ecommerce product image competes against the experience of holding and inspecting the item, in a physical store. With this in mind, consider showing your products from multiple angles.

Try to show your product from several different angles.

Try to show your product from several different angles.

At the time of writing, Best Made Co., as an example, had eight images for its straight-hold hatchet, including three different angles. The remaining five photos show the hatchet’s five available finishes.

Show Each Color or Option

Whether you’re selling hatchets that come with a yellow, blue, or green handle or shirts that come in rose smoke, oil green, or marshmallow (like Roxy’s T Bundoran tank top), show an image for each color or option.

Show a product image for each option, color, or configuration. Here Roxy shows three color options front and back.

Show a product image for each option, color, or configuration. Here Roxy shows three color options front and back.

Show Materials and Details

Shop for a classic tricycle on Radio Flyer’s ecommerce site and you will find product images that show in detail what you’re buying. You can see the adjustable seat, the steel spokes, and the classic bell on the handlebars.

Radio Flyer uses images of specific product features to help communicate the tricycle's value. You can do the same on your ecommerce site.

Radio Flyer uses images of specific product features to help communicate the tricycle’s value. You can do the same on your ecommerce site.

These images give you a better sense of the product’s value. Use individual, up-close images to show specific product features, textures, or materials.

Provide a Sense of Context and Scale

For some products, size may not be obvious. Show these items in context so shoppers can easily gain a sense of scale.

If your store sells a television stand, show both an isolated image on a white background (your main product image) and a picture of the stand in a home with a television sitting on it.

If you had seen this television stand without the context, you might have thought it was larger or smaller, but Hayneedle shows it with a television in a room setting, which provides a sense of scale.

If you had seen this television stand without the context, you might have thought it was larger or smaller, but Hayneedle shows it with a television in a room setting, which provides a sense of scale.

Allow Users to Zoom

In addition to offering several compelling images for shoppers to peruse, it can be a good idea to allow them to zoom in, too.

If, for example, you’re shopping for wrestling shoes on Asics’ website, you can hover over any of the product images and zoom in to see the stitching details and craftsmanship.

Asics, like many online retail sites, allows customers to zoom in for a closer look on product images.

Asics, like many online retail sites, allows customers to zoom in for a closer look on product images.

Consider Video

Product videos can be as simple as showing a 360-degree view of a blazer as a model turns around or as complex as demonstrating how to use the product. In either case, video adds a level of customer interaction that is difficult to beat.

Mr. Porter includes a brief video on many of its product detail pages. In this example, a model simply turns around to give shoppers a better view.

Mr. Porter includes a brief video on many of its product detail pages. In this example, a model simply turns around to give shoppers a better view.

Show Customers’ Photos

While your main complement of product images should be professional product shots, it is also a good idea to include user-supplied images.

While your site will want professional product photos for your main image, don't be afraid to share customer-submitted pictures, too.

While your site will want professional product photos for your main image, don’t be afraid to share customer-submitted pictures, too.

Furniture retailer Joybird shows relevant customer photos collected from social media and user submissions on the bottom of its product detail pages.

Armando Roggio

Armando Roggio

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