Large graphical headers have been a standard for website templates for more than a decade. If you perform a search for just about any keyword, you’re guaranteed to find the majority of websites have a giant, graphical header. You’ll also find a few that use giant videos in the header.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with displaying a giant image in your header. Images are powerful visuals that can influence a visitor’s actions and therefore increase your sales. However, a large image needs to be chosen intentionally; otherwise, it will only serve as a barrier to sales.
If you want to use large, graphical headers, here’s how to do it successfully.
Use your image to convey a specific message
A large header image that conveys a specific message will be more effective than an image that simply looks good or is loosely related to your subject.
The message you portray in your header image can be subtle. For example, the header on shave.net depicts a guy shaving with a giant ax next to the words, “shave like a real man.” The site doesn’t sell axes, nor does it encourage people to shave with an axe. On an unconscious level, this visual makes using a safety razor seem like the best way to get a closer, safe shave.
Large headers are huge pieces of webpage real estate that aren’t intended for decoration. However, headers are the perfect place to convey a powerful message.
Don’t use a giant graphic in the header without a purpose
Most templates come with the option for placing a giant, full-width graphic at the top of the page. In the back end, especially in WordPress, it’s easy to swap out a theme’s demo photo for the image of your choice. However, an image without a purpose is wasted space. An image without a purpose in the header is wasted space and a deterrent to sales.
Most people upload a custom header image without thinking. If it looks good, it gets published. Unfortunately, that approach can increase your bounce rate.
For ideas on what constitutes a header image with a purpose, check out the examples published by ImpactPlus. You’ll notice that many of the listed websites use the header space to capture email addresses, get people to sign up for an account, download an app, or click a button that leads to a specific page.
If your header image isn’t connected to a purpose, don’t use it; instead, edit the template to remove the graphical header unless you come up with a purpose.
Use your image according to color psychology
You may have heard that certain colors elicit certain emotions from people. It’s true. Colors have a profound, yet subconscious impact on our feelings. Use this to your advantage by creating your header image according to the thoughts and feelings you want to elicit from your visitors.
For example, if you want to elicit feelings of trust, use various tints or shades of blue. A predominantly blue header image will elicit feelings of dependability. If you want your visitors to get excited about an event you’re hosting, use orange or red. Red will induce feelings of excitement, while orange will make people feel cheerful and convey a message that your brand is friendly.
Use a theme or template without a header image area
If you’re struggling to figure out how to make a header image work, skip it completely. As a general rule, if you can’t create the exact header image you need to impact your visitors, get rid of your header entirely.
There are plenty of successful websites that don’t use image headers and instead, use a simple, clean, barebones theme. In fact, statistics show that simple, boring sites convert better than fancy, pretty sites.
Sometimes referred to as “ugly websites,” these high-converting, plain websites cut out all the bells and whistles and make content accessible immediately. Examples of these high converting, popular, yet plain sites include Craigslist, DMOZ (now retired), and personal development expert Steve Pavlina’s blog.
Marketing psychology is the key to an effective header image
Regardless of how you want to use your header image to impact your visitors, you’ll need to utilize marketing psychology. It’s not always apparent how to go about influencing visitors in a visual manner.
If you’re stuck, consult a marketing expert or hire a firm to create your header for the best possible results.