Every website uses images. However, not every website uses good quality, high-resolution images. Obviously, it takes more than high quality images to make a high-quality website, but they certainly help. Good image quality is imperative when it comes to making websites (and any marketing piece) look high-end, professional, and credible.
Understanding Image Quality
Images are made up of thousands of pixels. If you zoom into an image as far as you can, you'll see rows and rows of colored squares stacked on top of each other. Each of these blocks is a pixel. The number of pixels in the image determines the image's resolution. The resolution determines how clear the image will look.
Resolution for the Web
For websites, the appropriate resolution is 72 pixels per inch. As an example, if an image is 720 pixels tall by 720 pixels wide and is 10 inches tall by 10 inches wide, it has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. Consequently, the image will look smooth and sharp at any size up to 10 inches squared. However, if the image is used above that size, the resolution will decrease and start to look pixelated, blurry, and of poor quality.
Resolution for Print
For print material, the resolution must be much higher. Print resolution needs to be around 300 pixels per inch. This means that images you use for print should have more pixels per inch than the images you use for the web. Like web resolution, if you're using an image above its natural size, it will lose its crispness and clarity.
Getting High-Quality Images
Hire a Photographer
While your mobile phone's camera takes decent pictures of your dog, it's best to leave photography for your business to a professional. Also, keep in mind that friends and family members who have an interest in photography may not be the best choice either; just because someone has an expensive camera doesn't mean he/she knows how to take a great picture. There are hundreds of professional photographers in every locality for every budget.
If hiring a photographer isn't in the budget, there are a number of stock photo sites to choose from. These sites allow you to purchase images for minimal cost (shutterstock.com, istockphot.com, stock.adobe.com to name a few). If you're interested in the free route, check out thestocks.im for an aggregated list of useful links. You can also use Google's image search, but be sure to use the methods described here: Find free-to-use images.
Do Your Brand a Solid
If you are spending money on upgrading your website and marketing material, do yourself and your business a solid by using high-quality images. It helps strengthen your brand and shows that you're a big-time player in your game.