Designing your own website can feel like a challenge. You spend hours upon hours learning new apps, dipping your toes into code, finding the right templates… and still your website doesn’t feel done. You have that nagging feeling that something could be better, but you can’t pinpoint exactly what.
Friend, let me tell you a little bit about your website hero image.
Your website hero image is that big bold thing right under your header and navigation bar. It’s what takes up the most space on the screen when someone lands on your page. Yes, your logo is at the very top, but your hero image is what people will see first.
More than your logo or your content, your hero image creates your first impression. It’s what the people who land on your site will use to decide whether to scroll down and read more. It’s what they’ll use to quickly gauge whether you’re for them or not.
This makes your hero image the perfect opportunity to speak to and draw your ideal client in. You can start to tell your brand story, provide the most important information, and point visitors to what they’re looking for.
When your hero image is designed well, it can have a huge impact on your website and business.
If that feels like a lot of pressure, I’ve got your back. Here are my top 5 tips to help you make the most of your hero image and start designing like a pro:
1. Choose an on-brand background
Take a step back and look at everything you have out there: your Instagram posts, Facebook cover, blog titles… everything. What tone and style are you creating? What colors are you using? What photo styles can you pick out?
If you’ve been using photos a lot, your best bet is to use a photo in your hero image too. Choose a photo with the same subject matter, style, and tone as what you’ve been using elsewhere. So, if you’ve been using a lot of nature photos, go with a nature photo. If you’ve been using desktop flat lays, go with that.
Wild Creatives has a really consistent outdoorsy theme that flows through all their Instagram posts and onto their website. Moving between both platforms feels seamless.
A solid color background can be just as effective as an image, especially when it feels completely on brand. This is the perfect way to reinforce your brand colors and really draw attention to your text. If it fits your brand, you can add some interest with borders, lines, texture, and shapes.
Melyssa Griffin uses her bold signature yellow fearlessly. It makes her website stand out and immediately creates the energetic mood she’s going after.
If you sell services, consulting, or products that are really closely tied to you personally, it might make sense to include a photo of yourself. You can use a headshot, a photo of you in your workspace, or a close up of one of your favorite details. Make sure the photo you go with is high quality and on-brand. (Click here for tips on how to get on-brand headshots!)
2. Keep it simple
One the biggest mistakes you can make with you hero image is packing too much information in. It might be tempting to try to fit your whole message up there to get it in front of people right away. But that almost always just ends up just feeling overwhelming.
Think of your hero image as a teaser and use it to make your visitors curious about what you do and what you offer. You don’t want them to get stuck here. You want to quickly grab their attention and give them just enough to lead them to the next thing.
Keep your text to just a few key words. Two sentences max. You can summarize what you do, pitch your opt-in freebie, or introduce a product.
Rachel Jacobson keeps it super simple, but still manages to show and tell us exactly what she does and what her brand is all about.
3. Choose your font
If your brand font palette includes a decorative font, now’s the perfect time to use it! Hand-lettered, cursive, and funky fonts do their best at large sizes, and your website hero image needs big letters. Your decorative font will make a strong first impression and infuse your website with personality from the start.
If your brand palette doesn’t include a decorative font, that’s totally ok. Use your headline font and make it big and bold. A more subdued classic font in your hero image will create a calmer tone, which might be perfect for your brand.
Simply for Creatives makes her sans-serif headline font work by making big, bold, and hot pink.
Don’t have a font palette yet and need help choosing fonts? Check out these past blog posts:
- How to Choose the Perfect Fonts for your Brand
- The 5 Best Google Fonts for your Website
- The Biggest Web Design Mistake Creative Entrepreneurs Make + How to Fix It
4. Establish hierarchy
In design, hierarchy is about showing your audience what you want them to look at first. Simplicity is key when it comes to hero images, and even though you’ve already narrowed your message in, you can take it even further by making it super clear where to start.
Out of the two sentences you’re including, what is the most important word or phrase? What will catch your ideal client’s eye? What is the first thing you want them to see?
Make it stand out by making it bolder, changing its color, setting it on its own line, and scaling it up so it’s bigger than everything else. Then, break up the rest of your text in a way flows well and makes everything easy to read.
Lauren Caselli has her hierarchy all figured out! She grabs your attention with a big, bold, isolated headline written to draw you in immediately.
5. Create a template
Consistency is the key to a strong cohesive brand. Consistency looks professional, helps you make sure you’re always getting your message across, and is less work. And it makes it easy to update things in the future.
If you’re creating several slider images that rotate on your homepage or hero images for different pages on your site, you’ll need a way to make sure you’re keeping everything consistent.
Take your final design and make as many copies of it as you need. That way, you can edit the copies without losing your original. New opt-in freebie? No problem! Just plug your new copy into that template!
Designing a killer website takes a good amount of serious work. But these tips help you design effective hero images and make the most of all the hard work you’re putting in.