Elicit Strong Emotional Responses by Using the Right Imagery on your Website

Written by Linzi Hunter: Head of design.
· 4 minute read

As with all forms of art, our preference for images tends to be highly subjective, with personal tastes differing from one person to the next.

That said, science would suggest that there are certain categories of images that are more likely to elicit strong emotional responses than others.

Images are an international language. Cavemen drew on walls long before we started to develop the complicated languages we use today.

When looking at an image the human brain can process colour, form, line, shape, motion, texture, pattern, direction, orientation, scale, angle, space and proportion. Text on the other hand is something that has to be taught and requires interpretation based on the context of a particular word in a sentence.

As a website designer i’ll focus my attentions on a number of different elements – from information architecture, content and colours to typography & hierarchy – but images deserve as much attention in terms of usability and overall users’ experience on your site. Images not only add life to a website, they are also proven to help it convert better.

Emotion Rules

Whether we know it or not, all reactions and decisions are emotionally driven.

Data informs, but emotions guide.

Images are the best way to convey emotions and it’s important that you choose images that convey the right emotions you want associated with your brand.

Many people buy for emotional reasons. If you make them feel just right, they’ll take action. The same rule applies when choosing images for your site – a positive image brings out positive emotions. It could be a smile, a smirk or a gesture.

Emotions are powerful, and they work.

Make a Good First Impression

Choosing the right image in the right place is paramount. This may be the only time a user will interact with your brand before making a decision to choose you or a competitor.

People will form their opinion about your site in milliseconds. The first second on your website will matter more than all the other seconds that follow. Make sure that second makes a great first impression!

Who’s Getting it Right?

The imagery used in this Frack Free Energy site is quite dark and psychologically stimulates feelings of oppression, coldness, menace, heaviness – it gives the visitor a sense of empowerment and guiding them towards doing something ‘good’ by changing energy providers.

Black creates a perception of weight and seriousness – mimicking the issue of fracking. It communicates sophistication, works particularly well with white and allows the ‘Green for Go’ CTA’s to really stand out..



Longfonds was an idea created for people to experience what it’s like to be breathless to raise awareness for the lung foundation. The Dutch challenged each other to hold their breath as long as possible and donate 10 cents for every second. 

We’re loving this site because, from the moment we’re born, we’re hard-wired to focus our attention on human faces. In a classic study by Robert Franz, newborn babies spent twice as long looking at an image of a human face as they did at an image of a bulls-eye.

This deeply rooted tendency continues throughout childhood and into our adult lives, facilitating our ability to communicate with others and build important social relationships. In turn, it also explains the compelling nature of photographic portraits and the strong draw we often feel toward them.

images in web design

People no longer want to browse a website – they want to experience it.

Using the right images can boost your site’s conversions and help you connect more effectively with your target audience.

Finding the Right Images

I for one am sick of seeing crappy stock images of people in suits shaking hands. Not only are a lot of these stock photos tacky, but they are generally expensive!

Thankfully, there’s a growing number of websites with FREE stock photography worth shouting about popping up all over the web.

Now you know how important it is to choose your images carefully we have curated a list of our favourite free stock photography websites… Enjoy!


Our knowledge of effective design, UX, search and conversion means that our websites come not only looking beautiful but search and user-friendly, as standard. This gives you a head start when it comes to getting found online and converting browsers into customers.

Whatever it is you need, whether it’s work on your existing website or a complete redesign and build, we offer our clients options and flexibility thanks to our all-round approach.

Give us a shout!

How To Find Free Photos That Turn Website Visitors Into Loyal Customers