When creating a feature image for your articles, there’s a lot to consider. It’s important that you make something that catches the eye of your audience and entices users to investigate further. Here is a rundown of the most important things to keep in mind.
Know your context.
The first and most critical thing you can do is to understand the content you’re working with and its mood. Without understanding the context you’re designing for, you may miss key conceptual details that will create a disconnect between the text and the image. Take time to read the article, and if you need clarification from the author, don’t be afraid to ask.
Mood is important in a feature image. This example is an image for a webinar hosted by Arc. We wanted to draw attention to the program’s being online, while still presenting in a sleek and serious tone through use of typography and color.
Stay up to date with trends.
Whether you’re creating images from scratch or using online resources, it’s important to keep in line with design trends. That’s why every week, I take just a bit of extra time to go online and look at what other designers are doing for inspiration. There are plenty of design blogs, and some do a great job of covering a wide variety of trends for the year. For instance, Behance has not only a vast array of portfolios, but also provides guidelines for keeping up with current trends.
This feature image for an article about playlists on YouTube integrates the YouTube color palette with one of 2017’s design trends.
Employ both consistency and variety.
Although it’s important that the image you end up with serves the story at hand, it’s also important that your feature images go together to some extent. As with any brand, consistency is key. When people go to your home page, they don’t want to be bombarded with chaotic, mismatched images.
The 30×30 Nature Challenge took place in several different USGBC communities, but we wanted all the branding content to be related. This was achieved through creating a work mark for the challenge and placing it on top of imagery from the state that was being highlighted in each article.
That said, users also don’t want to see too much of the same. Make sure you have a variety of colors, graphics and photos that look cohesive together, but also diverse enough to stand out from one another.
It’s important that your images are consistent with another in some capacity; otherwise, your main page will look too chaotic.
Use the web for inspiration and resources.
Still having trouble coming up with ideas? Luckily, there are a lot of great sources online that provide free photos for commercial use, such as Pixabay or Unsplash. You can also look at Flickr’s creative commons for more photos. Other websites, such as The Noun Project, provide infinite icons for use for practically no money at all.
Although much of our content is serious, we also want USGBC to be fun and dynamic. Using bright colors and simple iconic imagery, we’re able to create clean works that still pop.
There is no one right way to create a feature image, but with understanding of your content, along with access to tools and trends, you’ll be on track to generating cohesive, eye-catching feature images for your articles.