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Dec 18, 2008 | 2 minute read

Should You Use Large Images on Category Pages?

written by Linda Bustos

Yesterday we talked about friction in the buying process -- elements on your website that cause frustration, confusion or resistance in the mind of your customer.

One area to be careful of is using imagery on your site without testing them. In a live optimization clinic earlier this year titled Optimizing eCommerce Websites, Dr. Flint McGlaughlin advised "Reduce the size of the real estate and test another image. A strong face as the primary means of greeting visitors gets a strong reaction that polarizes conversion rates. Never put up a face photo that hasn’t been thoroughly tested. It needs to be the right face," referring to this home page from Nars Cosmetics:

I noticed a similar image on a category page at Arden B:

Personally, I'm not a fan of the big banner taking up valuable real estate, nor do I like the choice of the image:

  • One problem is the model is looking off into nowhere, as we learned from GrokDotCom' SEMMY Winning article How a Pretty Face Pushes Customers Away, people are going to get stuck looking at her eyes.
  • The gloomy, dark background is overpowering, and a bit depressing. Usually print-type model shots are used to evoke emotion, but they're not always positive emotions. The Web and print are two different worlds.
  • This has to be the most unflattering angle for the top and the model. I can't even define where her arm is. I get no sense of the style of the shirt, it looks like a bed sheet wrapped around her body. If I wanted to see the front of the shirt, I can't click the image and see a product page, which is confusing. If I like the shirt, I assume I could view and purchase it on the site.

Only testing would prove whether removing the image would improve conversion:


Here's an enlarged mock-up of what the category page would look like with more products above the fold:

Even without testing to prove results, removing the image is the safer approach -- especially since you can't click on the image to see the product being modeled. If you've done testing on category page banner/imaging, we'd love to hear what you discovered.