My blog here is the stock WordPress theme because it suits my purpose. It’s not pretty, but it doesn’t have to be. However, I have put quite a bit more thought into my company website because appearances do matter there. The single most successful change I’ve ever made to the site was investing in professional photography.
Like a lot of small businesses, I had used stock photography for years—guy wearing a tailored suit and plastic smile on the home page, ethnically-diverse group huddled around a conference table on the “contact us” page, etc. My decision to finally breakdown and hire a photographer was borne our of pure frustration. I wanted to feature the Android app that we developed for active duty members of the US Army on our site. I spent two days trying to Photoshop together someone who looked like a solider holding a smartphone. Every attempt looked amateurish. I finally threw my hands up on the air and called an extremely talented photographer friend of mine. Two weeks later, we were in the dungeon-of-a-basement below my office, with a glow stick, my cell phone, and my wife wearing a borrowed pair of BDUs. The shot came out awesome.
Adam, the photographer, spent the day on-site at our office snapping shots of everything: all the staff, our building, interesting looking items on our desks. Planning ahead, I also invited a few clients to come out for a “client appreciation day.” In exchange for their time and their permission to be featured on our website, I provided full-resolution copies of their photos for them to use as they saw fit. This idea has been one of my better ones. Having a cohesive series of professional shots of clients has turned out to be significantly more credible than snippets of testimonials.
Like most investments in creative services, it’s somewhat difficult to quantify the value of this project. Revenue has grown more than 3x since those photos were taken about a year ago. I’m sure it’s not all due to the cute picture of my daughter. However, what I do know is that the online chat feature on our site now gets used more than twice as often by prospective clients. I’m never buying another stock photo again. Well… maybe they could be used to spruce up my blog a bit.