Monday, January 9, 2023

Images on your Iowa website are powerful. They can convey a variety of messages and let your target audience see themselves on campus, tell the story of your unit and allow you to convey a message better than you might be able to in writing. They can also capture a feeling and atmosphere that makes the user want to come back to your website again. We will look at why high-quality images matter and how to choose the best images for your site. 

Iowa’s creative strategy 

In order to effectively convey your department, unit or program and its messaging, it is important to keep in mind Iowa’s creative strategy of show, don’t tell. The images you select for your website should let your program speak for itself.

Avoid exposition and dense blocks of copy, and select imagery that reinforces your primary message so that your audience can quickly understand it. 

Iowa Brand website

High-quality matters 

It’s not just the image itself that is important, it’s also the quality. Are you wanting to promote life on campus or the student experience in a departmental program? Consider choosing images that showcase this. Do you want to have your user donate to your program? Have images that highlight various aspects of your program to showcase to your user and tell that story.  

Capture authentic experiences 

When users visit websites, it is easy for them to spot imagery that does not look authentic. Being able to choose high-quality images for your Iowa website is one of the best ways to connect with your user. These might be users who are searching the campus for prospective places to live, go to school or conduct research. Often times users will be looking at websites that feature stock photography, which makes it hard for them to get an understanding of what your department or unit has to offer. 

The key here is that your user wants to see authentic images of individuals that are part of the University of Iowa community, not just stock photography. They want to see where they would be learning, living, studying, conducting research, etc. If you’re able, we highly encourage you to use high-quality campus images for your site. 

Below are examples of a variety of high-quality University of Iowa images that showcase real individuals in their various Iowa campus environments.

Additional examples of dynamic imagery in the areas of academics, places, culture, and people can be found on the brand website

Finding and selecting images 

Finding high-quality images doesn't have to be a challenge and Photosehelter makes it easy. It allows you as an approved on-campus user to access the university’s library of professional photos and video footage for marketing and communication purposes. Photoshelter is a great tool you can use in order to add images to your University of Iowa website. Additionally, for headshot portraits of faculty or staff, we recommend using these tips to capture high-quality portraits on your website. 

Photoshelter image download example
Example of selecting image download size in Photoshelter.

Lastly, when downloading campus images from Photoshelter, it is important to remember the size of your download. We recommend downloading large image files for banners or featured images and medium for other components on your site.

Consider all moving parts of your site when selecting images and look at using a variety of images in order to visually showcase the Iowa experience. By using images that are dynamic in nature, have color, and show the subject’s face or landscape, you are also able to tell the Iowa story through visual elements on your website. If you are looking to refresh your website imagery but are not finding what you need on Photoshelter, you are able to reach out to the Office of Strategic Communication to discuss your photography needs at

Ensuring accessibility 

Lastly, when uploading your images into your SiteNow v3 site don’t forget about alternative text or ALT text. ALT text is a short description of the image used by screen readers and displayed when the image is not loaded. This is crucial for accessibility and an important piece for search engine optimization (SEO).

High-quality visuals and imagery should be a part of any successful website. Choosing high-quality imagery will let your website speak to your users and help in telling the University of Iowa story.