Rolf Hansen
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Product Photography : The Three C's to Success on the Web

The holidays always burn a hole in my credit card. Three family members have birthdays in December, and then it's Christmas. That's a lot of shopping. Or, in my case, a lot of surfing for what to buy them on the web.

This year, my wife wanted a certain pair of brown canvas shoes, which I found on no less than seven different sites. How did I decide where to buy them? Why, I picked the site with the best product photo, of course!

Maybe it's just me, but I like to see what I'm buying. Yeah, I do Photoshop work for a living, so I could be biased. But it just gives me so much more confidence in my online shopping when I can really see that the item is exactly what I wanted.

Not all e-commerce sites seem to feel the same. In my shopping, I ran across two sites that had a nice "No Photo Available" graphic where the shoes should have been. Sorry guys, but you're not even trying. You might as well not even have the shoes for sale.

Two other sites did have photos, but the color shown in the photo was wrong. Only one image of a black pair was shown for all of the six colors available. Who would buy a pair of shoes without any idea of what shade of brown, red, or blue they are?

Well, that left me with three sites left to choose from. They all had an image of the product. And as is often the case, the prices were very similar within a couple of dollars. So it really comes down to a great product photo to build my confidence enough to enter my credit card number and click the "purchase" button.

One site had an image of the shoes sitting on a rocky background with some kind of out-of-focus waterfall in the background. Nice shot, but I found my mind wandering about past trips to Colorado, and started checking online flight prices to plan my trip. Completely forgot about those shoes, and the web site.

Another site had a decent image of the shoes, but the image was tiny. So tiny that I could almost count the pixels as my eyes strained to see that the details on the shoes were what I was looking for. Although some images on the site allow you to "click to enlarge", that was not an option for this item. I guess these shoes just weren't important enough?

Finally, the last site was just right. Their image of the brown shoes had what I call The Three Cs. Inspired by the jewelry industry's Four Cs, this is one easier! But these product image qualities make a huge difference to the intelligent web shopper.

1. Color The correct color was shown, and it was as rich and bright as it should be.

2. Clarity - The image was sharp, so I could see all the details, and verify that the item was exactly what I wanted.

3. Clean - The product was presented on a clean, white background. There was nothing distracting the eye away from the shoes.

Three Cs. That was all it took to get me to choose one site over the other six. Follow the Three Cs with every product i

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